Tour de France: Cavendish hails team as he rules once more
If any confirmation were needed that Mark Cavendish is back with a capital B in his usual position as the fastest sprinter in the world, he provided it yesterday with his second straight stage victory in the Tour de France.
As if to prove that Thursday's win was no fluke, yesterday in the final kilometres Cavendish's HTC-Columbia squad repeated exactly the same strategy that had earned them their first victory — and it paid off trumps yet again.
Glued to the back wheel of his lead-out man Mark Renshaw, Cavendish and his Australian team-mate jumped from one team's line of riders — known as a train — to another.
Then with 200 metres to go, Renshaw peeled away from the Manxman, who delivered his usual blizzard of pedal strokes to go clear by more than a bike length, grinning from ear to ear well before he reached the finish line.
Cavendish said afterwards his 12th stage victory of the season came at the end of the hardest stage of the Tour so far — at 227 kilometres, the longest of 2010, and with 2,500 metres of climbing. There was also the heat as an extra factor.
With four kilometres to go, Cavendish Australian team-mate Michael Rogers ensured the pace was kept high with an extra acceleration, but — as on Thursday — there was no sudden massing of Cavendish black and yellow-clad
team-mates at the head of affairs.
Cavendish refused to acknowledge that he had gained a psychological edge on the rest of the sprinters by taking back to back victories, saying simply “I'm happy to win today against some great riders.”
“And it may be me who wins, but I'm just the last rider in a eight-man unit, the one who crosses the line.
“Without my team, I wouldn't be talking to you guys here now.”
Cavendish would not even be drawn into discussing his chances of taking the green jersey, which have considerably improved in the last 48 hours.
After taking one miserable point in the first three stages, the Manxman now has 85, placing him 33 points behind leader and double former winner Thor Hushovd.
“We've got a hard week in the Alps ahead of us, and it's not even easy between the Alps and the Pyrenees, and hopefully the team can do well,” he added. “We're seven days down, 14 to go, and I'll try my best to win again.”