Mark Cavendish soared to his second straight win in the Tour de France today to La Grande-Motte, winning the sprint from a small bunch and strengthening his overall hold on the green jersey.
Cav”s victory was the sixth Tour stage win and 43rd victory of his career, and came after 27 riders, driven by the entire Columbia-HTC team, split away away from the peloton with around 30 kilometres to go.
Cav hinted afterwards that it was the team’s intention to use the strong winds today, and they had hoped to do so earlier than they did, in order to take a lot of time from the other favourites and prevent the rumoured multiple attacks that the other teams were planning, to thwart Cav’s amazing gallop.
In the end, Cavendish only had Thor Hushovd to watch out for when the sprint began, and the 24-year-old rider made a gesture of using a mobile phone as he crossed the line – he explained later that it was in honour of his team’s new sponsor HTC.
“This gesture was dedicated to HTC because they introduced a new phone last week and I said if I win I’d do that for them.
“There are eight sprint stages we have targeted here, so hopefully I’ll get a few more before the end of the Tour, and one of them will be a win on the Champs Elysées.
Speaking of the Columbia-HTC squad’s coordinated teamwork, he explained;
“It was brilliant. Saxo Bank rode at the front for a large part of the stage, but we were the only sprint team that wanted to ride today in the front group, and it worked out perfectly.
“The other sprint teams rode like juniors, they eventually had to ride hard, which they were hoping to avoid with the Team Time Trial tomorrow, but they were riding just to stay in the race today, where we were riding for the win.
“It was a hard last kilometre, but I had five guys around me in the last build-up for the sprint.
Mark Renshaw once again was the last lead-out man for Cav, and he kept his cool, leaving his effort very late because of the headwind.
The Columbia-HTC mass attack also allowed Tony Martin to move into the lead of the Best Young Rider’s classification.
Incidentally, Cavendish completed a hat trick of victories for Columbia-HTC today after Switzerland’s Michael Albasini won stage two and moved into the overall lead of the Tour of Austria, and Mara Abbott of the USA scooped first place in stage three of the Giro d’Italia Femminile.
In all the newspapers, sports and normal, there was only one big story from yesterday’s Tour, yea!: That man “Cav”.
AS lead with a tricky one for translation purposes;
“‘Pichichi’ Cavendish – Es el triunfo de un equipo”
So what or who is a Pichichi? Well the nearest I can get is that you would call the top scorer in a football team a “Pichichi” – of course the headline is saying that it was a team triumph.
The crash 900 meters from the line has been put down to Koldo Fernández trying to go straight on when the course went right, he took sprinters Oscar Freire and Thor Hushovd out with