Tour de France: The sprinters battle on with young guns picking up speed
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tour de France: The sprinters battle on with young guns picking up speed

by VeloNation Press at 2:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Controversy amongst the sprinters after the first big mountains

Tyler FarrarNobody was able to overpower the team and sprint of Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) in stage fifteen of the Tour de France today, but several riders have shown they're making progress as they gain experience on the sport's biggest stage.

Twenty-four year old Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannodale) managed to fight his way to an impressive fourth place on the day, besting his previous sixth place result in stage ten by two.  Team Sky's trio of Ben Swift, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Geraint Thomas, with an average age of just twenty four, were able to pilot Swift to a solid sixth place finish on the day, but with another teammate in the finale may have well landed the podium.

“It was pretty manic. I got looked after really well by Edvald [Boasson Hagen] and Geraint [Thomas]. It was fast and I could have just done with one more person in there but obviously you need a lot of luck and a lot of speed to beat Cav," Swift said in a release from his team.  “I gave it my best shot and got sixth."

Yesterday's tough ride through the mountains saw a tired peloton that's looking forward to the rest day tomorrow.

“I’m actually feeling better as the race is going on," Swift continued.  "I was probably a bit in awe of it all at the start and mentally drained from it all. But I felt better through the Pyrenees; yesterday I was climbing pretty good on what was probably one of the hardest stages of the Tour so I was really happy with that.

“You can see the whole peloton is pretty tired now and if I can keep going like that I’ll be good next week.”

Team Quick Step's Gerald Ciolek, who is also just twenty-four years old, finished just behind the Briton, to freelance his way back to top ten results for the second tim in this edition of the Grande Boucle.  With the team's sprint captains Tom Boonen and Gert Steegmans both out of the race, the young German is now looking out for himself during the flat stages.

Seasoned sprinters Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) flanked Cavendish on the podium, with the former visibly upset at the finish at being unable to snatch up Tour win number two ahead of his chief rival.

"Cav made a really remarkable comeback after being dropped by the groupetto from about 70k yesterday," Farrar said in a television interview after the finish.  "So, it's a little frustrating to have him beat me so closely today."

This isn't the first time the Manxman has been accused of receiving outside help to make the time cut in a mountain stage.  In the Giro d'Italia this past May, Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) accused Cavendish  of holding onto his team car on the way up to the stage finish on Mount Etna.  He denied the incident and pointed out there would be evidence if a high profile rider such as himself had cheated.

Cavendish went about answering his critics in May with two additional stage wins then, and with the green jersey currently on his shoulders, there is no doubt the Manx Missile won't leave this Tour de France without trying to launch himself to another stage win.  He credits his still being in the race to a team that time trialed him to within 60 seconds of the day's time cut.


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