Thursday, July 8, 2010
STAGE 5: EMPHATIC WIN FOR A DESPERADO
He was the Man from Manx. The Manx Missile. A sensation from Great Britain.
Then there were a few near-misses. Then there was him flipping off his detractors as he won a race. Then there were a few crashes--even one in this Tour.
And there were his predictions of dominating the sprint-finishes in this Tour de France. And the expectations. And the pressure.
But so far on this grandest of stages...fizzle. Nothing.
In Stage 4, he actually got blistered by a 36-year old. Alessandro Pettachi blasted past him before the finish line as the Man from Manx dropped his head in defeat.
But that was yesterday.
Today, it seems, nothing and no one could have stopped Mark Cavendish from beating every other rival to the finish line in Montargis.
Cavendish beat the pack going away. Two bike links back to nearest rival.
Granted, he had a tremendous lead-out by his teammate Mark Renshaw (thank you, Mark!). But, whether it was the lead out, or anger, or shame, or desperation.... whatever, Cav roared definitively to all doubters (and even to himself): Hello!
Cavendish's win put more fun into the competition for the Green Jersey that is currently worn by Norwegian Thor Hushovd. The claim for being the best sprinter in the Tour is up for grabs among a handful of worthy rivals: Hushovd, Pettachi, Robbie McEwen, Tyler Farrar, Oscar Freire and Cavendish.
No change in the General Classification; the times and places of the contenders for the Tour victory remained the same. And they likely will tomorrow, too, as the Tour tackles this year's longest stage. It's got two Category 4 climbs (lowest category), but it's mostly a flat stage and will set up another sprint finish before the Tour heads into the Alps on Saturday.