Aggressive Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) took the fight for the green jersey to HTC-Highroad today in stage 13 of the Tour de France, but admitted that the squad's captain Mark Cavendish is looking good for the win in Paris.
After the flag came down outside Pau, the Belgian national champion said his breakaway efforts were foiled and HTC-Highroad remained very attentive at the intermediate sprint 82.5km into the race when he tried to attack with about a kilometre to the line.
Gilbert picked up just six points from the race today after he finally broke clear of the peloton on the descent of the Col du Soulor and finished in tenth place. Mark Cavendish picked up four points at the intermediate sprint.
Asked if he thought he could muster more attacks in the coming days to win the win the jersey, Gilbert said: "I hope so. It cost me a lot of energy to fight against Cavendish and his team because they are really strong. They are looking good for the jersey. I am only with six points from today.
"I was not feeling so good and used a lot of energy at the beginning of the stage to go in the breakaway so I felt a bit tired. [At the intermediate sprint] I thought maybe I could surprise them by coming from the back, but Bernhard Eisel was watching and he got on my wheel very quickly."
The irrepressible Gilbert has launched continuous attacks in an attempt to take points from the bunch sprinters throughout the Tour.
"I know how to handle my bike and it was a technical descent so from the top of the climb I decided to go full gas in the corners. I did and I took a good advantage from the bunch. Then at the bottom there was a headwind which was a big surprise because nobody told me over the radio. It was just really hard the last 20-25km. But I took some points which are important and some seconds too."
Currently Mark Cavendish leads the green jersey competition with 264 points. Philippe Gilbert is third with 240 points. The pair is split by Movistar's José Joaquín Rojas who could prove the greatest threat to Cavendish's green jersey dreams. The Spanish road champion is a better climber and has proved supremely consistent at picking up points.