Tour de France - Cavendish in green after stage win
Wed, 13 Jul 16:02:00 2011
Mark Cavendish moved into the green jersey with an emphatic win in a sodden stage 11 of the Tour de France ahead of Andre Greipel in Lavaur.
The HTC sprinter made amends for his loss to Omega Pharma-Lotto's Greipel on Tuesday by putting in a perfect display of power sprinting to secure his third win of the race - and the 18th victory of his Tour career.
"I said last night that I would win tomorrow," said Cavendish, referring to his unexpected loss to Greipel in stage 10. "When the guys ride like they did yesterday and I can't do my job it's hard so I made sure I got the win today. Yesterday, Greipel was perfect but today I made sure I didn't make the same mistake."
The 26-year-old Manxman's latest win means he has now won three or more stages in the previous four editions of the world's biggest cycling race. Cavendish also moves into the green jersey just as the remaining 177 riders head into the Pyrenees for a gruelling few days of climbing.
When told he had moved into the top of the green jersey standings, Cavendish said with a grin: "Oh, have I? Lovely."
Cavendish leads Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) by 251 points to the Spaniard's 235 points, with Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) in third on 231 points.
There were no changes in the general classification after yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) finished safely in the bunch alongside the race favourites to give France a home rider in yellow on Bastille Day on Thursday. The Frenchman leads stage nine winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) by 1:49 with Australian favourite Cadel Evans (BMC) sitting in third place, 2:26 in arrears.
Under stormy skies, a six-man breakaway formed on the road after 14km of the Wednesday's 168km stage from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur.
The six leaders - Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), Lars Boom (Rabobank), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) - built up a maximum lead of just over four minutes over the undulating roads of the Tarn.
Cavendish managed to pick up the maximum possible points at the intermediate sprint at Gaillac, crossing the line in seventh place following the six leaders, who still held a 3:30 lead with 65km left to ride.
But majestic performances from HTC pair Lars Bak and Danny Pate on the front of the peloton saw the break swept up around 3km from the finish - although a late solo rally from Dutchman Boom kept spectators on tenterhooks.
Entering Lavaur, it was the Garmin-Cervelo team of Farrar and the Sky team-mates of stage six winner Edvald Boasson Hagen who took up the pace-setting on the front of the bunch.
But Cavendish made his move at the right time - and despite seeing his foot become unbuckled with 500m to ride, the Manx Missile powered past the field to take his seventh victory of the season.
Greipel looked like the only rider likely to catch him, but the German's surge past stage three winner Farrar and the young Russian Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) was not enough.
Interviewed after the finish, Cavendish's influential team-mate Bak was philosophical about the last two days on the Tour. "It's good that Greipel won yesterday. He's a good guy but it made Mark angry," he said.
The Tour continues on Wednesday with the first proper mountain stage of the race, a 211km trek into the Pyrenees that features the legendary Col du Tourmalet before culminating atop Luz Ardiden.
After 11 days of keeping out of trouble and limiting their losses, the main GC contenders for the podium in Paris will finally be forced out to play.
Tour: stage 11 finish