Friday, 23 July 2010

Cavendish becomes only the second Brit to win a stage in Bordeaux

Cavendish won his fourth stage victory in the 2010 edition to become the second Brit to win in Bordeaux, the second most visited town after Paris. Just 3 years ago the young Manxman was the stage 7 Lantern Rouge before retiring in stage 8. Now he has become Britain's best chance for success in the Tour de France. Fans disheartened by Bradley Wiggins performance following his fourth place finish in the 2009 Tour can find some solace that one man can still bring British success in road race cycling. With this stage, his 14th Tour stage win during his 3 year Tour career, he has already surpassed the achievements of his mentor and friend, Erik Zabel, who won 13 stages in his career.

Labelled the fastest man on two wheels, the sprint specialists know he is a hard man to beat. Today they felt that once more as he blasted to the line, clear away from rivals enough to look back two or three times marvelling at the distance between him and his closest rival, Julian Dean who finished in second place.

A sprint finish had been no sure certainty for the stage which is often a decider in the Team Classification prize. Having worked hard from early on in the race, Team Radio Shack were once more looking to secure the top spot in the Team Classification standings. Working hard at the top section of the peloton, they carefully marked out their rivals, Caisse d'Epargne who are know to excel in the Team Classification standings. Up at the front of the peloton HTC-Columbia worked hard to control the chase down of a small breakaway that had escaped early on. With the leading group up ahead and cross winds along the route that ran parallel with the Bay of Biscay, there was a chance that the breakaway could survive if the sprint teams didn't work hard with one careful eye on the wind.

Lampre worked with HTC-Columbia as they chased the leading group into the final 20km, knowing that Petacchi would want to be right up there for the sprint finish. Shortly later Cervelo and Team Sky came to the fore to control the hunt. As the race came into the final 10km Oss (LIQ) tore away in a hope of time trialling his way to victory. Kept on a tight leash by the peloton as they ate up the remains of the original breakaway, HTC-Columbia switched on the gas driving the peloton up to a speed of nearly 80km an hour, keen to ensure that the stage would come down to a bunch sprint to the line.

Cavendish was cool and calculating as the peloton stormed under the flame rouge signalling the final km. Watching, waiting, he was biding his time for launch, looking for the line. Once he had it in his sights, he was gone, tearing away from his rivals, eating up the tarmac as he ripped away, looking over his shoulder marvelling at the distance he had covered as he crossed the line.

Finishing in 3rd place, Alessandro Petacchi who is currently under investigation for alleged doping offences in his home country, took enough points to put him back in the Maillot Vert which he had lost to Thor Hushovd in the Pyrenees. The Thunderous Norwegian who Cavendish had jumped from the wheel of to take the sprint finished in 14th place. With just 16 points and his Norwegian rival in between Cavendish and the Green Jersey that for now rests with Petacchi, the race for Green will go on to Paris, with not only the stage but the final points for the Maillot Vert being up for grabs at the finish line on Sunday.

Tomorrow the riders will endure a 52km Individual Time Trial from Bordeaux to Paulliac. Schleck has made his intention to continue his battle for yellow clear, but with Contador starting last, he will have the advantage of knowing exactly what he has to do to beat his Luxembourg rival. The last time trial when the Yellow Jersey changed hands on the penultimate day was in 2006, when Landis triumphed, leaping from 3rd to 1st place. Since then, the American has been disqualified due to a positive doping test. With Schleck and Contador fresh from the trials of the Pyrenees it could be a closely fought battle right to the very end. Can the Luxembourg rider move up from third last year to first this?

No comments :

Post a Comment