SAN DIEGO, July 20, 2012 – Mark Cavendish reminded everyone why his nickname is “The Manx Missile” with his impressive sprint finish win on today’s Stage 19 of the 2012 Tour de France.
A breakaway group nearly held off the peloton. It seemed until the very last kilometer they might make it to the finish for the win, but the sprinters wanted to have their fun. Sky Racing, Liquigas-Cannondale, and Lotto-Belisol worked hard to give Cavendish, Peter Sagan, and Andre Greipel a fighting chance.
The rare sight of the yellow jersey GC leader Bradley Wiggins at the front of the Sky leadout train made a real statement to the rest of the cyclists that Wiggins isn’t coasting into the Tour finish. He put on a little show proving that his track racing skills aren’t completely rusty. He peeled off to let Sky rider Edvald Boassen-Hagen do his part, and then it was up to Cavendish. He was farther back than he generally likes when he launched his sprint, but the burst of speed made the other riders literally look as if they were standing still. They had no chance. Cavendish’s excitement with his win showed in his energetic classic salute. It was an impressive victory.
Wiggins said he and the team wanted to work hard for Cavendish today including his own leadout effort, and he took great pleasure in his teammate’s victory. “He’s the fastest man in the world without doubt. He showed that he can go from 600 out. We just watched it and he left them for dead, didn’t he?”
The win ties Cavendish for third place in all-time stage wins at the Tour de France with 22. He has a way to go to pass Eddy Merckx sitting at the top with 34 stage wins, but no one should count Cav out. He’s young enough to do it, if he stays healthy and focus. What a terrific goal to shoot for in your career.
One other unusual sight is worth noting today. A spectator’s dog ran into the road about two-thirds of the way through the stage. Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert of BMC went down as a result; Katusha rider Denis Menchov and Arthur Vichot of FDJ-BigMat were also involved. Gilbert let the dog’s owner knew just how upset he was. Everyone is OK.
The GC contenders did what they needed to stay in place at the end of this flat 138-mile stage today. So did all of the competitors for the specialty jerseys. Peter Sagan will wear the green sprinter’s jersey in Paris and on the podium; as will Thomas Voeckler with his polka dot King of the Mountains jersey, as long as both finish the Tour. Tejay van Garderen leads Thibaut Pinot in the young rider’s white jersey by a little over three minutes. A good time trial on Saturday will secure the honor. Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov was awarded the most aggressive riders jersey. This is his last Tour and he has fought hard for a stage win without success.
Today’s top finishers were:
1. Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) Sky Procycling
2. Matthew Goss (Australia) Orica GreenEdge
3. Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas-Cannondale
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain) Rabobank
5. Nicolas Roche (Ireland) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin -Sharp
7. Borut Bozic (Slovakia) Astana
8. Sébastien Hinault (France) AG2R La Mondiale
9. Daryl Impey (South Africa) Orica GreenEdge
10. Samuel Dumoulin (France) Cofidis
No change in the top ten GC riders today:
1. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) Sky 78:28:32
2. Chris Froome (Great Britain) Sky 2:05
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas-Cannondale 2:41
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium) Lotto-Belisol 5:53
5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC 8:30
6. Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC 9:57
7. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain) RadioShack-Nissan Trek 10:11
8. Pierre Rolland (France) Europcar 10:17
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slovakia) Astana 11:00
10. Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ-Big Mat 11:46
Saturday offers a 33 mile time trial from Bonneval to Chartres. Whether or not it decides the outcome of the Tour de France there is always Tour glory in winning a time trial stage. GC leader Bradley Wiggins needs to ride a good time trial but has no real worries about having to pull out all the stops today. The real battle may come down to American Tejay van Garderen who is motivated to keep his young rider’s white jersey over rival Thibaut Pinot. Pinot was four minutes behind van Garderen in the first time trial; van Garderen had a great ride and was fourth. Pinot needs three minutes plus to go ahead of van Garderen and he might give him a scare. Cadel Evans will be riding for pride.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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