Sunday, 24 July 2011

Cavendish makes it a hat-trick on the Champs-Élysées

HTC-Highroad sprinting legend Mark Cavendish made it another one for the history books today as he took his third Champs-Élysées stage win; his 20th Tour stage victory in his fourth Tour de France. In what has become a formality for the 26 year old Manxman, he took the victory despite a minor mechanical problem with a little over 30km left to ride. For the third time in as many years he sprinted home ahead of his rivals, the only difference being the jersey on his back.

Despite a tough journey through the Alps in the final week that saw him deducted points twice for coming home outside the time limit, only avoiding elimination by being in a group too large to eliminate, he was able to maintain the Maillot Vert and become the first British rider to win it at the end of the Tour.

As ever, the young man credited his team for ensuring he made it, thanking them each for their hard work, and paying tribute to their efforts time and time again. Hugs all round, they weren't the only emotional team, as BMC riders hugged Tour winner Cadel Evans who became the first Australian to win the Tour de France. At 34 he has also become the oldest post-war winner in Tour history. Next to him on the podium stood the Brothers Schleck who became the first brothers to stand side by side on the Tour podium.

With today's stage being nothing short of a procession for the Golden Fleece, it was an anxiety free stage for the riders who had endured so much in the agony and ecstasy that made this years Tour what it was. With no real breakaway until the action came into Paris for the famous 10 laps, the only action came in the form of a fellow British rider hoping to burst Cav's proverbial bubble. Kicking off the front, he was soon joined by the winner of the most combative rider award, Jeremy Roy, and four other riders. But it proved a fruitless effort in the end as the peloton brought them back to ensure the bunch sprint took hold.

Having been paced back by room-mate, Super Domestique Bernie Eisel following the mechanical issue that saw him grab a new bike off the team car, the Manx Missile was guided with precision by his radar man, Mark Renshaw to take the win he had so wanted for so long.

An emotional end to an emotional Tour the organisers certainly got what they had wanted: Cavendish finally in Green and no clear winner until the very end of the Time Trial in Grenoble.

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