Cavendish Strikes Again in 2010 Tour de France by Winning Stage 6
Mark Cavendish made it two straight Tour de France 2010 stage victories, leading a sprint for the line as the main title contenders finished in a closely trailing pack. Fabian Cancellara maintains overall Tour lead before mountains.
Mark Cavendish made it two straight 2010 Tour de France stage victories this afternoon, leading a sprint for the line as the main title contenders finished in a closely trailing pack.
The 25-year-old native of Britain's Isle of Man raised his hands in celebration at the end of the hot, 227.5-kilometer (141.3-mile) sixth stage from Montargis to Gueugnon, which was mostly flat and favored sprinters.
The Team HTC-Columbia sprinter earned his 12th career Tour stage victory and fifth in all races this year -- clocking 5 hours, 37 minutes, 42 seconds to win ahead of US rider Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin-Transitions) and Alessandro Petacchi of Team Lampre.
The victory comes a day after Cavendish broke down in tears after winning Stage 5, experiencing in a sense of redemption after the promise-filled sprinter failed to win a stage earlier in the Tour.
"I'm really happy. I'm speaking better today because I was pretty emotional yesterday," Cavendish said.
The sprint attempt by Farrar suggested the Garmin-Transitions rider's condition has improved since breaking his left wrist in one of numerous crashes on rain-slicked roads in Monday's Stage 2.
"I'm still not 100 percent," Farrar said in French on French television. "Maybe I'm stupid not to stop after the break, but today I was feeling better." Roadcycling.com editors question Farrar's decision to combat the final sprint himself instead of supporting currently stronger teammates Julian Dean and Robbie Hunter.
Commenting on the final sprint Cervelo TestTeam's Thor Hushovd told Roadcycling.com at the finish "It's a pity to not be up there. It just didn't work out today. I would like to be in top 5 or 8 going into the last kilometer, when I crossed the finish line, I didn't even feel like I was sprinting. These things are sometimes confusing. I was too far off the back. The last kilometer was very technical and I lost the wheel of Lancaster."
In regards to the battle for the green sprinter jersey Hushovd added "It's getting close now. I would have liked to have scored a few more points in the final sprint, but that's the way it is. I will have a big fight all the way to Paris, but against whom, I am not sure. You have to be consistent and pick up points every day."
When asked if he favored stage wins or accumulating green jersey competition points over more stages Hushovd found that "It is a balancing act. It's hard sometimes. If I crash in a sprint, I can lose all points, so I have to be there in the sprints, but not do anything crazy. It's important to gain points every day and never miss out any points at all."
The main title contenders finished in the same time as Cavendish. Defending champion Alberto Contador was 28th, seven-time champion Lance Armstrong was 38th, and overall race leader Fabian Cancellara finished 41st.
The top standings didn't change. Swiss rider Cancellara retained the yellow jersey that he has worn everyday but one this year, Spaniard Contador stayed ninth overall, and Armstrong kept his 18th spot. Cadel Evans of Team BMC Racing, a two-time Tour runner-up and the highest-placed potential title contender, is third -- 39 seconds behind Cancellara.
"I'm not bad. I cannot say yet if I am good, but at least I am not bad. I am not feeling any pain in my back, which is very important. I have some bruises on my ribs from my crash on the cobblestones, but I have no difficulty breathing. We'll just see how it goes in the Alps. I haven't planned anything special. I wasn't able to train like I wanted to before this Tour, so I am just taking it day-by-day. We can reassess things after the Alps," 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre told Roadcycling.com after the finish.
When asked on his current form Team RadioShack's Levi Leipheimer told Roadcycling.com that "Well, I'm not gonna lie. It's the Tour so I can already feel some heavy legs at times, but you know in the finals when we gotta go, I can go and that's what matters."
Leipheimer added "I don't know if tomorrow is such a crucial day, but the day after we'll definitely see some gaps. The next two days we'll start to get into it. Things haven't gone our way this first week, but I think that in the last two days we've come together as a team riding a lot more attentive and as a group and I think we're strong. Saxo Bank really showed that they had a team for the other day, but I predict that we have the best team for the mountains and we need to show that. We have a lot of guys who can climb and we need to take advantage of that."
Lance Armstrong (Team RadioShack) expects the GC riders to start their real combat on Sunday's mountain stage. Armstrong finds that his performance in the recent Tour of Switzerland was promising "But to be honest I feel a lot better than I did then. I feel better on the bike, I feel stronger, recovery feels better, a little bit lighter, which obviously makes a big difference. So we'll see. It's all hype until we get out there and do it. But I'm optimistic. Numbers will help us."
Strong climbers are poised to take center stage once the three-week race enters the Alps on Sunday.
Riders get their biggest taste of climbing so far in this year's Tour de France in Saturday's seventh stage, a 165.5-kilometer trek along six low- to mid-grade climbs in the Jura mountain range from Tournus to Station des Rousses.
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Click here for stage 6 results.