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Cavendish wins the stage but drug shame rocks Tour

By Matt McGeehan

Published 11/07/2015

Mark Cavendish captured his first Tour de France stage win in two years
Mark Cavendish captured his first Tour de France stage win in two years

Finally, Mark Cavendish showed the patience needed to deliver his first Tour de France stage win in two years and 26th in all to the satisfaction of his three-year-old daughter.

But Italian Luca Paolini has tested positive for cocaine and has been suspended.

"Cav is back" declared the French television commentators after the Manxman burst to victory on the 190.5-kilometre route from Livarot after two near misses in this year's race.

Many hoped that Cavendish's 26th Tour win would have come in Harrogate, his mother's hometown, on the opening stage of the 2014 Tour, but he crashed out.

His Etixx-QuickStep squad floundered in the finishing straight last Sunday in Zeeland and on Wednesday in Amiens the Manxman was third, conceding he simply was not fast enough.

The pressure was increasing on Cavendish, who is out of contract at the end of the year, as yesterday was one of the final opportunities for the pure sprinters.

But the 30-year-old decided to bide his time before surging to his first win since the 2013 Tour and move two behind Bernard Hinault's tally of stage wins.

The Frenchman has 28, second only to Eddy Merckx's record tally of 34.

Asked the difference between winning and not earlier in this week, Cavendish said: "I just waited a little longer. I was more patient, so I could use my speed at the end."

Cavendish celebrated with pregnant wife Peta and three-year-old daughter Delilah.

"I've waited a week for this win personally," Cavendish said.

"She (Delilah) was angry I didn't get the flowers in the last days. Today she's happy."

Cavendish dedicated the win to Etixx-QuickStep team-mate Tony Martin, who had surgery on a fractured collarbone in Hamburg after crashing while leading the Tour on Thursday.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) stayed out of trouble to assume the race leader's yellow jersey but the day was overshadowed by Paolini's positive drug test.

The Katusha team member returned the positive sample on Tuesday and will not start today's stage. A UCI statement asserted the 38-year-old has the right to request and attend the analysis of the B sample.

"In accordance with UCI Anti-doping Rules, the rider has been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the affair," read the statement.

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