Sunday, 17 July 2011

Cavendish maintains Maillot Vert into the Alps with impressive 19th win of his career

HTC-Columbia once again proved there is nothing any other team can do to derail their train once its left the 1km station on the run into the finish. Despite a last minute effort to disrupt the set up, Belgium rival for Green Jersey points Gilbert was unable to outmatch the Manx Missile. Even the attempts of Garmin - Cervelo to box the HTC-Columbia pairing of Messrs Renshaw and Cavendish in to give Dean and Farrar an advantage proved to be in vain as Renshaw found his gap and let Cavendish go with 300m to the sprint.

With winds threatening to splinter the peloton and making hard work for the bunch as it worked to keep the breakaway riders on their leash, HTC-Columbia were forced to do the majority of the donkey-work. Hoping to wear out the fastest sprint team in the world, the other teams forced HTC-Columbia to work alone at the front for the majority of the 192.5 coastal run in from Limoux to Montpellier; the only sprint stage between the Pyrenees and the Alps.

As the peloton came into the final 3km Gilbert kicked off the front in a bit to solo his way to the finish and upstage Cavendish who had earlier come under fire from rival in the Green Jersey competition, Rojas, who accused him of being towed by team cars during yesterdays mountain stage. The move proved disastrous for the Belgian rider who was unable to maintain the power needed to beat the HTC-Columbia Express as it rolled into town; finishing 28th he failed to take any points on the stage and now lies 71 points behind Cavendish in the competition. His only hope for points now lie in the mountains and on the run into Paris where the race finishes a week today.

Tomorrow is the rest day. With the Alps and the Individual Time Trial looming, all French hopes are now on Voeckler who has continually surprised with his ability to maintain his overall lead. However the Europ Car rider is quick to dismiss suggestions that he may go onto win the Tour as "unlikely".

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