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Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 14; Montélimar – Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux. Cavendish’s Fourth Stage Win!

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Cavendish's Fourth StageAnother criminally boring stage saved by a beautiful finale with Cavendish’s Fourth Stage making it 30 stage wins – there are few superlatives left for the Manxman.

Good to see Kristoff in second spot; the remarkable Sagan was right there in third spot and very nice to see John Degenkolb up there in fourth spot.

Kittel got it wrong today and Greipel was again off the pace.

And, erm that’s about it…

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
Mark Cavendish celebrates his fourth stage win. Photo©ASO/A.Broadway

Jérémy Roy (FDJ) headed off up the road at 28 K, Alex Howes (Cannondale), Martin Elmiger (IAM) and Cesare Benedetti (Bora) joined him and, well, that was that with the peloton pegging them at four minutes for hours on end until the bitter end on a day of block headwind.

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
The obligatory sunflower shot. Photo©ASO/P.Ballet

There were three cat. four climbs today – De Gendt took the first one before the break went then Howes took one, Benedetti the other.

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
The break pass le tricolor. France and this race are still reeling from the horrific events in Nice. Photo©ASO/P.Ballet

With a low 30’s KPH average lets’ take the opportunity to RANT.

VeloVeritas mentor and cycling prophet, Viktor has been busy on the phone to me, this week.

Here’s a point he raises which is well worth airing; Dan McLay, Adam Yates and Steve Cummings – GB riders all performing brilliantly.

What do they all have in common, apart from riding very well in this Tour?

All of them have bailed on the GB “system” – there’s a message in there.

And on a similar slant – how come, with the huge funding and much vaunted “system” do we have half of the same riders in the Rio team pursuit squad as we had four years ago in London and eight years ago in Beijing?

The Aussies churn the new names out every year – we don’t.

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
Passing through l’Ain Photo©ASO/A.Broadway

Back to le Tour and we have 70 K to go and it’s … status quo.

Lars Bak for Lotto and Greipel is doing much of the tempo riding at the front of the peloton aided and abetted by Dimension Data for Cav and Etixx for Kittel.

But let’s not forget VeloVeritas regular Dan McLay (Fortuneo), Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) – and we saw glimmers of form from Alex Kristoff (Katusha) t’other day.

Let’s rant some more; aforementioned Steve Cummings – we’re perhaps late to the party but given his brilliant stage win it’s hard to argue against his going to Rio.

Peter Kennaugh is no doubt a quality boy – but he’s had two months out of racing following his crash in the Tour of California where he broke his collarbone.

He’s back for the Tour of Poland but it’s hard to argue for his inclusion ahead of Cummings.

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
The bunch pegged the break perfectly. Photo©ASO/P.Ballet

Meanwhile, en France; sunflowers, breakaway, a minute gap – let’s rant some more, closer to home – the Scottish Senior Criterium Championships…

A man of my acquaint had this to say;

“Half the race was from the same team who made it slow, negative, and frustrating.

“The race went on for 35 minutes, then there was a crash – as predicted – on the pedestrianised bit of the course.

“The race was red flagged for 15 minutes (whatever that means), then stopped at 45 minutes as an ambulance was needed on the course to move the injured riders.

“The race was restarted 45 minutes later with six laps to go – so basically a 12 minute hill climb.

“People were set off in the groups they were stopped in but many riders decided it wasn’t safe, and too late, so thy went home.

“I was in the front group of what I thought was five riders, but after the restart there were around 12 riders there.”

And we’ve heard rumours that riders who were well placed were perhaps one lap down – sounds like fun.

And whilst we’re talking about Auld Scotia title tussles; ‘whatever happened to the 25 Champs?

We feel sorry for all those riders who built their season around it – how can the Blue Riband event be allowed to disappear without trace?

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
Benedetti outsprints the break for the Skoda points. Photo©ASO/P.Ballet

Over in France we’ve lost Danish hard man Matti Breschel (Cannondale), he’s gone down heavily in a crash.

We have 20 miles to go now; the break is still 55 seconds clear but Etixx are taking more interest at the head of the bunch and Movistar are up there too keeping Quintana out of trouble.

It looks like a ‘Cav Day’ already to us but Greipel, Kittel, McLay, Coquard and Kristoff will all have something to say – unless Sagan mugs them on the run in, that is…

The question now is; ‘will Cav go all the way to gay Paris?’

He’ll want to win that last stage on the Champs Élysées so bad, that’s for sure – but to do that he’d have to endure a week in the Alps.

And a week in Les Alpes is not dream preparation for an Olympic omnium championship.

It’s a conundrum – Vik reckons he’ll go to the Champs in Paris, I reckon he’ll go home soon after today’s finish, irrespective of the result.

If Vik’s correct then I’ll never hear the end of it – if I’m right I’ll hear no more about it.

Photo©ASO/P.Ballet
Wout Poels and Thomas De Gendt shot the breeze. Photo©ASO/P.Ballet

We’re inside 20 K over La Manche and still the peloton is ‘playing’ the break’; they almost had them caught but let it go back out to 38 seconds.

BMC and Dimension Data are on opposite sides of the road – the former to keep their GC men Porte and van Garderen out of danger the latter for Cav and the win.

Howes pops from the break, three clear now by 40 seconds with the wind as strong as ever.

Howes is swallowed by the bunch like a Great White gobbling up a Blue Fin.

There’s 10 K to go and our three wise men are riding hard, you have to admire their commitment – dead men walking but no surrender.

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
Big long straights and a headwind were not conducive to an effective break. Photo©ASO/P.Ballet

Katusha now on point in the peloton as Benedetti pops from the break, just two green bottles left hanging on the wall.

BMC are still up there and Tinkoff too – Sagan must be feeling frisky – and Sky are up there too.

There’s the five K banner: Katusha, Cofidis (for Laporte), Dimension Data – and it’s over for the break.

Jumbo too for Groenewegen – and Etixx, late again but placed nicely with a good train on to which Dan McLay has hooked up.

Flame Rouge and it’s hectic; Cav locks on to Kittel who’s still got one man; and there’s Degenkolb (Giant) in the mix – good to see.

Kristoff is looking strong too but the lead out Cav gets from Kittel – who launches a little early – is just too good and he’s going to get it, for sure.

Cavendish!

Cav holds up four digits, Kittel sat up, gubbing off and protesting but has no reason to complain, Cav wiggled a little but nothing deliberate or dramatic – it was a clean win with Kittel well beaten.

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
“The sprint was regular” said the commissaries. Photo©ASO/P.Bade

  1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data – number 30, he’ll be a cheery cheeky chap on TV tonight.
  2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha – coming back as the rest get tired.
  3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team – remarkable…
  4. John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin – good to see.
  5. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step – stop huffing man!
  6. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
  7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
  8. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre – Merida
  9. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
  10. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo

The stages may be sportivs but you can’t fault those last couple of minutes!

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
Chris Froome warms down before the podium ceremony. Photo©ASO/B.Bade

Cavendish's Fourth Stage
Let’s have another one. Photo©ASO/P.Bade.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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