Cape Argus

Five years later Cavendish is all four it


A LAST-GASP addition to his team, Mark Cavendish rolled back the years as he claimed his 31st Tour de France stage victory yesterday - five years after his last success on the world's greatest cycling race.

The Briton, who finished outside the time limit in his previous participat­ion in 2018, crashed out in 2017 and hinted at retirement last year. He is now three victories away from the Tour's all-time stage win record held by Belgian great Eddy Merckx.

Cavendish, back in the Deceuninck-Quick Step team this season after a five-year hiatus, powered past his rivals in the final straight to beat France's Nacer Bouhanni to the line.

Belgian Jasper Philipsen took third place while his Alpecin-Fenix teammate Mathieu van der Poel retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.

"So many people did not believe in me, you know - and these guys do," a tearful Cavendish said afterwards, referring to Deceuninck­Quick Step.

"I thought I'd never be back." The day had begun with a rider protest - with all teams putting their collective foot down one kilometre into the 150.4km ride from Redon to bring the race to a halt for about a minute in a silent protest for safer racing conditions after numerous crashes in the opening stages.

They then rode the next 10 kilometres at a snail's pace.

As the stage came to a conclusion, breakaway rider Brent van Moer was close to upsetting the sprinters. But he was caught by the charging peloton 150 metres from the line, with Cavendish producing a perfectly timed effort to snatch his 49th stage win on a grand tour in the town where he also prevailed in 2015.

Today’s fifth stage is a 27.2km individual time trial from Change to Laval.

 ??  ?? Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish

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