Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) was disappointed not to win in Revel after he and his HTC-Columbia team rode strongly on the late climb. But he was able to take pride from again proving that he is the fastest finisher in the Tour de France whenever sprinters face off at the line.
HTC-Columbia team manager Rolf Aldag claimed Cavendish handled the last climb as well as he handled the Poggio when he won Milan-San Remo in 2009.
In Revel he beat Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Tam Sky), but finished 13 seconds behind stage winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana).
"It was disappointing not to win the stage after going that hard over the climb, but it was an incredible ride by Vino, so he deserves it," Cavendish admitted.
"The team worked incredible today, we took it on from the go. It was a hard stage and we got the group back, but Vino was riding strong. When he went it was incredible."
Cavendish moved up to third in the points competition thanks to scoring 30 points for second place in Revel. Petacchi took back the green jersey and now has 187 points, two more than Hushovd. Cavendish is 25 points behind Petacchi with a total of 162 points.
He rued the points he lost early in the Tour and admitted he will not fight for intermediate points during the mountain stages.
If he is able to close the gap on Petacchi and Hushovd in the points competition, he will do in sprints in Bordeaux and Paris.
"In the last week it’s going to be the same three guys sprinting and so it's not worth using the team to go for the intermediate sprints," he explained.
"I'm not the same kind of rider as Thor (Hushovd), who is able to get the points in the mountains. I've got to rely on the sprints."
Aldag believes green is still possible
Aldag is convinced that Cavendish still has a chance of snatching the green jersey, perhaps even in the final sprint in Paris.
"We took today a risk and it paid off," he told Cyclingnews. "Alan Pieper checked the final climb for us and I gave him three choices: is it easy, is it possible or is too hard. He came back to me and said: 'It's hard but it's possible.'"
"That made it a difficult call for us but we committed and went for it even when Lampre stopped working. We were all impressed how good Cav was and this shows how good he was in the mountains. He's still strong."
"Petacchi has the green jersey but Thor was only eighth. Petacchi is having the Tour of his life. But let's see how he handles the Pyrenees and see what happens in Bordeaux. If Mark pulls a lot of points back in that sprint, then it could be a nice showdown in Paris. We'd love that."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.