Cavendish leaves Tour de France with two stage wins to his credit
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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cavendish leaves Tour de France with two stage wins to his credit

by Shane Stokes at 8:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Manxman misses out in Paris, winning streak there comes to an end

Mark CavendishPreviously undefeated on the Champs Elysees, Mark Cavendish’s aim of taking a record fifth consecutive win in Paris came up short today when the Briton had to be satisfied with third.

The Omega Pharma Quick Step rider was defeated by Marcel Kittel (Argos Shimano) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol), losing out when he delayed his jump.

Kittel was head of the other two and made his move first, immediately opening a bike length’s gap over Greipel. Cavendish was on the latter’s wheel and while he was able to draw alongside the German and nearly get past by the line, he fell short.

“It was a really fast sprint,” Cavendish explained afterwards. “To be fair, I wasn't quite in an ideal situation like I wanted. I said to Gert [Steegmans] go to lead me out. If I manage to get behind those two, Greipel and Kittel, that is perfect because I can go then. When they came past I shouted to Gert, I'll stay on them, but when I came around the last corner ... I think, in hindsight, maybe I should have gone earlier.”

Rounding the final corner before the finishing straight, Cavendish appeared further back than he had in some of his other years winning on the Champs Elysees.

That plus his hesitancy may have been part of the reason why he missed out, but he has also appeared to be lacking the same oomph as he did in previous Tours.

“When I went I kicked really good. Andre went across the road, and I had to go around the both of them and it did take me into the roughest part of the road on the right,” he said. That was noticeable when his rear wheel kicked up in the air on the final sprint.

“I had to go into that. I had to stall a bit and I was able to go again,” he said. “I was coming, but it was just too late to beat Marcel Kittel. It was Kittel's fourth win at the Tour here, so it's not like I've lost to an unknown rider.”

Cavendish’s defeat will prompt questions about whether he has lost some of his top edge. He first rode the Tour in 2007 and missed out on a victory before withdrawing from that race. However since then he has been dominant. Cavendish took four wins in 2008, then twelve months later he clocked up a staggering six.

Five followed in both 2010 and 2011, then three last year.

This time round, he notched up just two, his lowest per-Tour total since 2008.

Cavendish has already spoken about the subject, saying that Kittel’s pure speed is hard to match. The German has notched up four wins in the 100th edition of the race. However a couple of years ago Cavendish was winning by one or more bike lengths, being well clear of his rivals.

The gap has narrowed and riders such as Greipel, who Cavendish would beat comfortably before, are now regularly as fast as the Briton.

He’s doubtlessly frustrated, but put a positive spin on things. “We came here as a team and we won four stages, so it's been a successful Tour,” he said, also referring to the victories of Tony Martin and Matteo Trentin.

“We were the most successful team I think here in terms of stages [Note: Argos Shimano also took four stages via Kittel]. A team to win four or five stages is a big, big thing. So we're definitely happy.”

He added that it was ‘a while’ since the Omega Pharma Quick Step team had taken stages in the Tour, and that Michal Kwiatkowski’s tenure in the best young rider’s jersey must also be viewed as a success, even if the Pole ultimately slipped back.

“So, we're really happy and hopefully we can continue this successful season,” he said.

The team is reportedly likely to try to bring Mark Renshaw and Alessandro Petacchi on board. If so, both signings will boost Cavendish’s chances in the 2014 Tour.

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