Mark Cavendish Powers to Win Stage 3 of 2009 Tour de France
Lance Armstrong (Team Astana) gains important time on overall Tour contenders, including teammate Alberto Contador.
Team Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish soared to his second straight win in the 2009 Tour de France on Monday, strengthening his overall hold on the green jersey. In a small bunch sprint finish, Cavendish was once again the fastest in the 196.5-kilometre stage from Marseilles to La Grande Motte. Cavendish won ahead of Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam).
Cavendish's victory was the sixth Tour stage win and 43rd victory of his career, and came after 27 riders, including the entire Columbia-HTC team, broke away from the peloton with around 30 kilometres to go because of strong side winds in the coastal region. Team Columbia-HTC took perfect advantage of the wind to fracture the peloton into multiple pieces, leaving all major overall favorites except Lance Armstrong behind.
Cavendish made a gesture of using a mobile phone as he crossed the line, and he explained that it was in honor of his team's new sponsor, HTC.
"This gesture was dedicated to HTC because they [introduced] a new phone last week and I said if I win I'd do that for them," Cavendish explained. "There are eight sprint stages we have targeted here, so hopefully I'll get a few more before the end of the Tour, and one of them will be a win on the Champs Elysées."
Speaking of the Columbia-HTC squad's coordinated teamwork, he explained, "It was brilliant. We were the only sprint team that wanted to ride today in the front group, but it worked out and the other teams had to ride behind anyway to chase us. You could really appreciate how strong we were as a squad and we took a lot of time out of the guys behind. It was a hard last kilometre, but I had five guys around me in the last build-up for the sprint. Mark [Renshaw] kept his cool and left it very late because there was a headwind but it worked out well."
"It doesn't matter who you are, if you work hard you're going to succeed, and if you've got a team like Columbia-HTC that are able to ride for you and they are such a great mix of the best young talented riders in the world and the best older experienced riders in the world, then it's a real winning formula. When we all work together it's bound to work out."
Cavendish extended his lead in the sprinter competition and will also be wearing the green sprinter jersey tomorrow. The Columbia-HTC mass attack also allowed Team Columbia's Tony Martin to move into the lead of the Best Young Rider's classification.
Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank) still leads the Tour de France 2009 overall before tomorrow's tough and crucial team time trial. Expect Team Astana and Team Columbia-HTC to show their strength!