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Cavendish Again

Cavendish winning stage 15 at Montpellier

[Pascal Pavani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images]

In my post last night, I wondered how to handle the conflict this morning between a sprint stage on the Tour and the final round of the British Open golf tournament. My normal pattern is to give myself over to the Tour until the stage ends, then switch over to golf. But what a front nine Phil Mickelson was having in Sandwich! We were well into the golfing drama as today’s Tour stage neared its end. We did switch over to the Tour with about 12K left and watched it to conclusion.

A fascinating day, even if of no significance with regard to the general classification, what with 116 riders finishing in the same time. Nonetheless, as I saw just a little but heard about, Team HTC had to fight the whole length of the stage to make sure that the peloton didn’t lose contact with, and eventually reeled in, the breakaway. And then they had to set up Cavendish for the sprint finish. All of which they did perfectly in an extraordinary display of cycling teamwork.

As they neared the finish, HTC was reduced to the usual pair, Mark Renshaw leading out Cavendish. André Greipel seemed not to be in position to make a move, but Alessandro Petacchi was, and soon Tyler Farrar entered the picture. Renshaw peeled off, Cavendish made his sprint for the win, Petacchi couldn’t keep up, but suddenly there was Farrar moving up on Cavendish’s left, drawing within a wheel as Cavendish crossed the finish line for the win. An exciting finish and a win well earned.

For the record, this is Cavendish’s 4th stage victory of the Tour and 19th overall. In more detail, he won 4 stages in 2008, then 6 stages in 2009, another 5 last year, and the 4 this year. I read an interesting statistic in The Guardian’s coverage:

Cavendish is now the only man in history to have won four road stages – in other words, not including individual or team time trials – in four consecutive Tours. Not even Eddy Merckx did that. The records keep tumbling.

The Tour will have bigger business to attend to after tomorrow’s rest day, as I described last night. The ride to the Alps on Tuesday, the rides in the Alps the next three days, and the individual time trial on Saturday. But come Sunday and the closing ride into Paris, watch out again for Cavendish.

And Farrar, who seems to have some sort of beef with Cavendish and HTC. At the end of the coverage this morning, Versus got hold of Farrar for an interview and he was steaming. He could barely control his voice, but he held back from stating just what exactly he was angry about. He did mention Cavendish being kept alive in yesterday’s mountain stage, not slipping too far back to be eliminated, and there seemed to be a hint that something nefarious made this possible. Maybe it was the heat of the moment, after a difficult day and a near miss at the finish line. Whatever the issue, Farrar will want that stage win in Paris, and it may be a thrilling finish. Let’s just hope they both make it through the Alps unscathed and ride their best on Sunday.

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Categories: Cycling
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