Manx Missile: 30 Tour de France stage victories for Mark Cavendish
Briton proves he is the fastest sprinter with his fourth stage win in this year’s cycling classic
Britain’s Mark Cavendish proved he’s the fastest sprinter at the Tour de France this year with his fourth stage victory on Saturday.
The 31-year-old took the honours on the 208.5km 14th stage from Montelimar to Parc des Oiseaux ahead of Norway’s Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan of Slovakia.
It was the Manx Missile’s 30th stage victory in total at the Tour – only Belgian legend Eddy Merckx has won more with 34. Cavendish held up four fingers after crossing the line in his latest victory.
Fellow Briton Chris Froome finished in the peloton to maintain the yellow jersey of race leader ahead of Dutchman Bauke Mollema and Adam Yates of Britain.
In a long, straight finish seemingly tailor-made for powerful German Marcel Kittel, Cavendish tucked in behind his rival’s wheel to use the slipstream that afforded him.
When he darted out to make his dash for home, there was no doubt who was going to win.
Cavendish did weave a touch in front of Kittel, who sat up protesting, but by then the German was already beaten.
“Kittel had already lost and stopped his effort. He had lost his focus. Maybe Cavendish swerved a bit, but it’s nothing,” said retired sprinter Laurent Jalabert.
Kristoff said: “Cavendish is just faster right now.”
Kittel had won four stages in each of the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Tour while another German, Andre Greipel, also won four stages last year.
Over those three years, Cavendish won only three stages in total.
But the man who averaged five stage wins per Tour from 2008-2011 is clearly back to his best and proving he has no peers in sprinting.