Belfast Telegraph

Final frustration for Cavendish as he falls flat in Paris

Marcel Kittel beat Mark Cavendish to the line in Paris to end the Manxman's run of consecutive victories on the final stage of the Tour de France.

Cavendish had won four in a row on the Champs Elysees, but could only manage third place behind Kittel and his fellow German Andre Greipel.

Behind, Team Sky crossed the line arm-in-arm as they celebrated Chris Froome's Tour win.

It was a fourth stage win of the Tour for the 25-year-old Kittel, who has put the Manx Missile, considered the fastest sprinter in the world, in the shade over the past few weeks. Cavendish, in contrast, finished with two stage wins, the lowest total of his career after a Tour filled with incident and frustration.

After three weeks which have seen him caught in crashes, battle illness and get sprayed with urine by a spectator, Cavendish suffered a puncture during the third lap of the circuit and although he was quickly back in the peloton, the extra effort may have told in the final reckoning.

While fate may have leant a hand in Cavendish's frustrations in France this summer, he has also been quick to realise the formidable opponent he now has in Kittel, repeatedly referring to him as "the real deal".

Kittel saw his Tour debut curtailed by illness just five stages in last year, but has starred second time around, taking the yellow jersey on the opening stage and outshining his sprint rivals again and again, most obviously when he came from more than a bike-and-a-half's length down to beat Cavendish on stage 13 to Tours.

As night fell in Paris, the Tour finishing late as part of its 100th edition celebrations, Froome could get his party started having finished with a final margin of four minutes 20 seconds over Nairo Quintana.

The traditional procession in from Versailles began with Joaquim 'Purito' Rodriguez celebrating his third place overall by handing out cigars to fellow podium finishers Froome and Quintana.

Froome was then handed the customary glass of champagne as he rode alongside a Team Sky car with its branding in yellow, while he was surrounded by team-mates in yellow-tinged sunglasses.

They arrived in the centre of Paris just as the sun was beginning to set, and Froome insisted that his chief lieutenant Richie Porte lead the Sky train over the finish line of the Champs-Elysees on the first of their 10 circuits.

Sky pulled off the front to allow the real race to begin, with the sprint teams beginning to jockey for position.

Sky were back on the front as they began the final lap, with Geraint Thomas, the man who has ridden almost the entire Tour on a cracked pelvis, leading them over the line before the fireworks began in the final few kilometres.

Belfast Telegraph

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