Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Tour de France: Cavendish anything but sweet 16 after stage win

Great Britain's Mark Cavendish scorched to the 16th Tour de France stage win of his career and then hinted at the demons which lie beneath his combustible personality.



The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man came from behind to belatedly open his 2011 Tour account on the crash-strewn 164.5-kilometres fifth stage from Carhaix to Cap Frehel on the Brittany coast.

Cavendish, who is reportedly set to join Team Sky at the expiry of his HTC-Highroad contract, came off the wheel of fellow Briton Geraint Thomas before accelerating around to take the win ahead of Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), who inherited the green jersey from previous incumbent Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), who finished third.

Cavendish later compared the surprise win with his 2009 success in Aubenas, dedicated his win to his recently-deceased dog, accused former team-mate Andre Greipel of striking him and rebuked a journalist for a factually inaccurate question.

In an interview with French television, Cavendish also pointed to his head and said: “Most of my problems are in here.

“But once I get settled I'm normally all right and it gets easier. I'm just passionate about the sport. I just love to win.

“Maybe people don't like my character so they try to do things not in a sporting way by disqualifying me or taking points from me.”

Cavendish was later asked to expand on his point, but stopped short.

He added: “If I go into that, we won't get out of here tonight. But it's what makes me tick.”

It was an interesting end to a hectic day which saw RadioShack leader Janez Brajkovic taken to hospital with concussion and a suspected fractured collar bone after crashing out of the Tour and Nicki Sorensen, the Danish champion, pulled down by a photographer's motorbike.

Sorensen's team leader Alberto Contador and Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins were among those also to fall, while Tom Boonen had a heavy tumble on the tarmac and suffered for much of a day which saw Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) retain the race leader's yellow jersey.

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