Tour de France: Mark Cavendish claims second stage victory

Rider whose form was so cold that he was virtually frozen out, is now piping hot again

British rider Mark Cavendish of the Deceuninck Quick-Step team celebrates while crossing the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France 2021 over 160.6 km from Tours to Chateauroux. Photograph: EPA

British rider Mark Cavendish of the Deceuninck Quick-Step team celebrates while crossing the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France 2021 over 160.6 km from Tours to Chateauroux. Photograph: EPA

 

Mark Cavendish made it a hat-trick of wins in Châteauroux, blasting past his sprint rivals once more to claim his career 32nd stage win in the Tour de France, and his second in this year’s race. Victory in stage six’s dead-straight drag strip finish demonstrated that the momentum once lost in his career has now returned with a vengeance.

With two stage wins in three days, the rider whose form was so cold that he was virtually frozen out, is now piping hot again. This time there were few tears, just jubilation as he again hugged his Deceuninck Quick-Step team-mates beyond the finish line.

But not everyone in the peloton was celebrating and there were some disgruntled gestures in Cavendish’s direction from sprint rivals, Jasper Philipsen and Nacer Bouhanni, after there was some contact in the final 150m as the British rider moved to the centre of the road.

‘Split second’

The stage was illuminated by a two-man breakaway, led by reigning Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet, the day’s main animator. After a spate of early attacks were nullified, the Belgian was joined in his lone effort by Caleb Ewan’s leadout man, Roger Kluge.

With Ewan out of the Tour after crashing in the sprint finish to stage three, his German team-mate had been given his head and he and Van Avermaet rode determinedly across the flatlands of the Loir-et-Cher, until their inevitable capture by the speeding peloton, with just 2km to go. After that it was all about the irrepressible Cavendish and his unerring team-mates.

“Wow!” said Cavendish. “It’s 10 years since my last win here. It’s pretty special . . . Michael left me space on the left to go but I wanted just a split second longer in the wheels so I had to switch trains. But you see the guys, how much they pull. You’ve got the world champion Julian Alaphilippe just burying himself in the last kilometres, it’s something special. I’m buzzing now.”

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