Friday 13 December 2019

Cavendish true to his word

Alasdair Fotheringham

mark cavendish bounced back to business as usual yesterday, putting Tuesday's stinging defeat behind him as he claimed his third stage victory this year and the green jersey of points leader to boot, writes Alasdair Fotheringham.

What made it all the sweeter was that more than a bike-length back in second came Andre Greipel, the German who had pipped him the previous day. The HTC-Highroad rider admitted the stage 10 defeat in Carmaux at the hands of his longstanding rival had hit his morale, as "team-mates that have ridden for me at 110pc don't see me finish off their good work. It was as simple as that. I told them over dinner (on Tuesday), 'I'm not feeling like that again. Tomorrow I'm going to win'."

Cavendish duly claimed his victory in this 104-mile stage from Blayes-les-Mines, despite catching his shoe in a rival's wheel with 500 metres to go, yet another downpour and seeing his key support rider Matt Goss dropping back near the finish through illness.

The shoe incident was the most serious problem Cavendish faced, when sprinter Romain Feillu's front wheel grazed unintentionally against his foot, causing it to unstrap. With a revealing nonchalance -- despite all this happening at more than 40mph, Cavendish considered it just part of the job -- he explained: "My shoe banged into his front wheel and my foot came out. I had to re-do the buckle up, so I was lucky there were no swerves in the peloton then, and that (his wingman) Mark Renshaw was in position." Renshaw then left Cavendish in pole position with around 200 metres to go and he duly powered through to the 18th Tour stage victory of his career and his first points jersey lead since stage 12 of the 2009 Tour.

Yesterday put him eighth in the all-time list of Tour stage wins -- he will be sixth if he prevails in Montpellier and Paris, the only two bunch sprint stages remaining -- and the way he kissed the green jersey as he stood on the podium showed just how strongly he wants to wear it in Paris. (© Independent News Service)

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