Equals feat of Cipollini, Petacchi
By Brecht Decaluwé in Nîmes
23-year-old Mark Cavendish proved once again that he is the fastest sprinter of the peloton on Friday by taking his fourth Tour de France stage win in Nîmes. The Team Columbia rider now brought himself equal with great sprinters like Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi in the number of stage wins in a single Tour. In the past 20 years, only Lance Armstrong has won more stages (five, 2004).
Cavendish's feat is all the more remarkable given the small number of stages in this year's Tour which were suited for the sprinters. In fact, the only bunch sprint where the British rider lost was on stage two, when Thor Hushovd won, and Cavendish finished 27th. Even that finish in Saint Brieuc was more suited to his team-mate Kim Kirchen, who took second, thanks to a tough little uphill before the line.
It is clear that on a pure sprinters' stage, Cavendish is practically unstoppable. Cavendish explained after the finish line that the other sprinters feel as if he's taking the bread out of their mouths. "Today there was a joke going through the peloton about it. I received text messages from the other sports directors asking me why I'm doing this," Cavendish laughed.
"It's unfortunate for the other guys that I have to do my job. But at the end of the day I've won four stages and I'm still not in the green jersey. It just shows that I'm winning while the other guys are being a bit more consistent than me," Cavendish said.