Aussie Focus

Cavendish critiques BikeExchange tactics as Matthews fifth in Stage 10

Stage 10 winner Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) again played critic in his post-stage interview as he questioned the strategy of Team BikeExchange to pressure him mid-way through instead of at the finish.

Taking his third victory at this year's Tour and the 33rd of his career, Cavendish launched off the back of another picture-perfect lead out from his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates to move to within one stage win of equalling Eddy Merckx's all-time record.

The Manx Missile again turned coach in his post-stage interview, this time directing his attention to the efforts of Team BikeExchange to push him on the climbs and give an advantage to Australian Michael Matthews, who remains one of the main challengers for Cavendish's green jersey.

The Aussie's team brought him to the head of the peloton on an early category 4 climb before doing it again on the incline to the intermediate sprint to give Matthews the best chance at maximum points as Cavendish found himself behind the pack and chose not to contest with the other sprinters.

Reappearing at the fore yet again on an uncategorised climb inside the last 40 kilometres, BikeExchange tried to drain Cavendish once more but it was ultimately to no avail, as he revealed the Deceuninck camp were well aware of their rivals plans.

“We knew they'd do that," Cavendish said.

"When I go for the green jersey, I go for stages and hopefully the green comes from that. I always try to pick up points but I'm not going to put myself over the limit to do it. But they'll do it."

“Honestly - they've got to try something, it's bike racing - but I feel like they've burned their matches doing that. Michael (Matthews) just had one guy trying to help him in the final when he could have had the whole team to match ours.

“They went with that tactic, trying to drop me. But the team stayed around me and got me over it. I just needed to get over that climb and I knew I'd be safe for the sprint.”

The win again puts considerable distance between Cavendish and the other green jersey hopefuls as he now sits on 218 points with Matthews in second on 159 and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) third on 136, with the Aussie conceding it's pretty tough to compete with the in-form Manxman at the moment.

“Coming into the last 30km there were crosswinds over the top of the final climb and Deceuninck-Quickstep tried split the bunch a bit but it all sort of came back together again," Matthews said following the stage.

"Luka (Mezgec) and the boys did a really good job to position me there in the final, but Cavendish is just too fast these days and I had to settle for fifth.”

BikeExchange director Matt White was happy with the team's tactics to keep Cavendish away from the intermediate sprint, but wasn't overjoyed with the fifth place finish for Matthews in what was an intense finale.

“The boys did a really good job and opened up the first intermediate sprint so that the pure sprinters couldn’t get any points," White said.

"Sonny Colbrelli beat us but Cavendish and the other guys didn’t get any more points for the green jersey competition.

"Then the final was hectic, fast and it split a couple of times. Our boys where at the front and Michael has done not a bad job running fifth.

We’ve got a couple of times up Mont Ventoux tomorrow, it will be a big day for the breakaway and the plan is to have someone in it.”

The Tour de France heads to the iconic climb of Mont Ventoux for Stage 11, the 'Giant of Provence' to be climbed twice as the best climbers in the race look to fight it out for the stage and the general classification. Watch the race from 2030 AEST on SBS and SBS OnDemand with the SKODA Tour Tracker starting at 1950 AEST. 

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4 min read
Published 7 July 2021 at 3:58am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS