Cav goes green at Tour
Double delight for HTC-Highroad sprinter
By Jonathan Turner. Last Updated: 13/07/11 5:19pm
Cavendish: Latest victory puts him seventh on the all-time list at the Tour de France
Mark Cavendish powered to victory on stage 11 of the Tour de France and moved into the sprinters' green jersey in the process.
The 167.5 kilometres route from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur came down to the expected sprint finish and Cavendish's HTC-Highroad team controlled it superbly in the torrential rain.
They first of all did the bulk of the work to reel in an early six-man break - which comprised Lars Boom (Rabobank), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun), Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Tristan Valentin (Cofidis).
The catch came with just under 5km remaining, though Boom then launched an attack off the front which briefly delayed matters.
And heading into the finish Mark Renshaw guided Cavendish into position before the Manxman opened up an early sprint and comfortably held off all his rivals, in the process avenging his defeat by André Greipel 24 hours earlier.
On this occasion Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was a clear second, with Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) in third. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) was fourth and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) fifth after another strong lead-out by Geraint Thomas.
The victory, combined with the points he took when leading the bunch over the line in the day's intermediate sprint, puts Cavendish in front as he battles for a first green jersey.
With just two more sprinter-friendly stages to come, he has 251 points, 16 more than José Joaquín Rojas and 20 in front of Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
It was Cavendish's 18th stage victory at the Tour, which puts him seventh on the all-time list, and his third at this year's race.
Afterwards he once again paid tribute to his team-mates, telling ITV4: "When the guys ride all day like they did yesterday and I don’t finish the job, I usually go out the following day and react like I have done today.
"I asked them to do it again and, when I got the lead-out today, I really hit it. You can see I got the gap with my acceleration and I then made sure I held that gap.
"The guys were phenomenal today for me because it was a strong breakaway group that we had to catch, some of the strongest riders in the peloton.
"Lars Bak and Danny Pate worked for much of the day and then at the end we had to put Tejay (Van Garderen) and Peter Velits up there as well Bernie Eisel to pull it back. It just shows that guys like Peter Velits and Tony Martin, both going for GC, are willing to give everything to make sure we win here. It underlines what an incredible group of guys I’m working with.
"It’s incredible to win today, it’s so nice to be back in green."
With the field finishing in a bunch, the top of the general classification is unchanged; Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) continues to lead the way, maintaining his lead of one minute and 49 seconds to Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank), with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) in third.
The overall contenders were saving their legs for Thursday when the race hits the high mountains for the first time, with the 211km stage from Cugnaux finishing with the hors categorie climbs of the Col du Tourmalet and Luz-Ardiden.