Bradley Wiggins pays tribute to Mark Cavendish over Tour de France sacrifice
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Bradley Wiggins pays tribute to Mark Cavendish over Tour de France sacrifice

by Ben Atkins at 1:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
World champion misses out on another sprint stage as he works for the Maillot Jaune

mark cavendishTour de France leader Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) paid tribute to teammate Mark Cavendish at the end of today’s 15th stage, between Samatan and Pau, as the World champion forsook another sprinters’ stage. The Sky team came into this year’s Tour with the sole focus of making Wiggins the first-ever British winner of the race, and Cavendish - who had won a total of 20 stages in his five previous appearances - willingly took a back seat.

All but one of Team Sky’s domestiques are in the team in the service of Wiggins, with only Cavendish’s “minder” Bernhard Eisel included to take care of the Manxman, who has been used to having virtually the whole team at his disposal. He took victory in stage two - the first sprint stage of the race - but has barely featured since, and is a long way off the pace in the race for the green jersey he won last year.

He has, however, been seen fetching bottles from the Sky team car, and has even led the peloton on occasion, as he did in the closing kilometres into Pau today.

“Mark has been fantastic these last two and a half weeks,’ said Wiggins to “He's been so committed to my cause – to the yellow jersey – and he's a great champion and a great friend.

“Obviously there is still the stage to Paris for him and we're going to lay it down in Paris for him and try and get him the win there.”

Cavendish has won the Champs-Elysées stage on the last three occasions and, if the Sky team gets behind him on Sunday he will be the favourite to take an incredible fourth, but it is the race that follows six days later that the Manxman has his eyes on.

“He's also got the Olympic road race which he's been quite open about,” Wiggins explained. “That's his main objective this year, so it's a shame that he hasn't had the chance to race for more stage wins but in the end we've got a difficult task on our hands to try and win the yellow jersey. So far, he's played a big part in that. We've seen him going back for bottles and, yesterday, he tried really hard to get over that first climb with us... he's also been an absolute gentleman this week.”

Wiggins, along with fellow Tour stage winners, teammate Chris Froome and Garmin-Sharp’s David Millar, and another Sky teammate, British champion Ian Stannard, will be behind Cavendish’s bid for Olympic glory on July 28th, which is where the Manxman will be paid back for his sacrifices in France.

While Cavendish was one of those working in the peloton in today’s stage, Team Sky was determined not to do too much, and was happy to see the break eventually go. The frenetic attacking in the first hour and half however, saw Sky riders Eisel and Edvald Boasson Hagen call for “time-out” in the peloton.

“I thought the attacks at the start wouldn't last so long; it went on for almost two hours but the terrain took its toll,” Wiggins said. “There are a lot of tired bodies out there and eventually the break went and it was pretty straightforward. We started [to chase] but we were only willing to use two guys and we were hoping that Lotto[-Belisol] would chuck two in, that [Orica-]GreenEdge would chuck two in... but they weren't interested so that was the end of that.

“There was a good group ahead with a lead of five minutes already so it was going to be difficult.”

In the end, nobody came to help Team Sky, and so the breakaway sextet finished the stage almost 12 minutes clear. Team Sky now has the second rest day to prepare for the coming stages, where Wiggins will have to defend his Maillot Jaune in the Pyrénées.


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