My back's against the wall, says Cavendish
Mark Cavendish was left to wonder if he still had the power to keep up with his rivals after Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen won stage seven of the Tour de France in Chartres.
This was the fourth sprint stage this year, and the fourth in which Cavendish failed to feature, rolling home in 10th.
A slight brush against Alexander Kristoff saw him sit up, but by then Groenewegen had already gone as the LottoNL-Jumbo rider led home Quick-Step Floors' Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe.
"I was following good wheels but it was choppy. I seemed to be in a good position," Cavendish said. "But when I went to go, Quick-Step and Bora have just got a different kind of level."
Cavendish has 30 career Tour stage wins, four shy of Eddy Merckx's record, but it is now nearly two years since his last.
"I just keep trying, our backs are against the wall," said the 33-year-old, who is in a contract year but is expected to stay with Dimension Data. "It's not going to be easy but we keep trying."
BMC's Greg Van Avermaet doubled his advantage in yellow to six seconds by winning the bonus sprint. Team Sky's Geraint Thomas remains second, with Van Avermaet's team-mate Tejay Van Garderen third.
Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates and Sky's Chris Froome remain 13th and 14th, with their deficit to yellow growing to 65 seconds.