Manx Missile's Olympic message loud and clear
Mark Cavendish drew equal with all-time sprinting great Andre Darrigade's total of 22 Tour stage wins yesterday in appropriately dramatic fashion, tearing past the remnants of a breakaway for one of the most spectacular victories of the Manxman's career.
If any demonstration were needed of how ready Cavendish is for the Olympic road race a week today, then it was there yesterday.
His victory was as magnificent as it was well deserved -- and within the context of Darrigade's record, totally in keeping with the historic nature of the occasion.
Physically, there can be no doubting the Briton's condition. After 222 kilometres of racing -- just 18 less than the Olympic road race -- through the relentlessly rolling countryside of the Garonne and Correze, Cavendish still had enough strength to take the stage by several bike-lengths.
Guided by race leader Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in person, then with a final lead-out from Sky's Norwegian powerhouse Edvald Boasson Hagen, the Manx Missile shot round the corner with the day-long break's remnants firmly in his sights.
Cavendish's last manoeuvre, powering from right to left before tearing past Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez for the 35th Grand Tour stage win of his career, was simply spellbinding.
Wiggins, meanwhile, is now just 48 hours away from making history himself, as Britain's first ever Tour de France winner.
Today's final challenge -- a flat individual time trial just south of Paris, should -- barring a last-minute disaster -- be an opportunity for Wiggins to demonstrate just why he is in the yellow jersey. (© Independent News Service)