Cavendish finishes off stellar leadout as he nears Tour de France record

Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) took his 33rd Tour de France victory with another bunch sprint win, taking out the finish in Valence after a superb leadout by Deceuninck-QuickStep.

When Michael Mørkøv moved over to allow Cavendish space to sprint down the barriers there were barely more than 100 metres left to cover in the race, and with Cavendish's current form, the British rider finished off the race to win in style. 

“It was an old-school, run-of-the-mill, textbook leadout like you’d read about in a cycling magazine," said Cavendish. "Just get the lads on the front and pull as fast as you can so nobody can come up and try and come past you in the finish."

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Cavendish sought out each of his teammates after the race, thanking them for their role in delivering him to the victory, the 33rd of his Tour de France career as he moved within one win of the overall stage win record, currently held by Tour great Eddy Merckx with 34. The race had been relatively sedate until the finale, when Deceuninck-QuickStep were instrumental in splitting up the race in the crosswinds. 

“It split in the wind, but we didn’t really try to split it, it sort of happened," siad Cavendish. "We were confident we had the team for the sprint, again I’m just humbled. They’re leaving it all on the road for me and I have to finish it off. I didn’t really do anything, I did 150 metres."

A 191-kilometre largely flat stage saw the riders take it easier for the majority of the journey, a welcome respite from the hard opening nine days of the Tour de France.

Two riders, Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) and Hugo Houle (Astana-Premier Tech) were the ones to escape after some initial skirmishes at the start of the race, setting off on a likely doomed quest at the start of the stage. 

The intermediate sprint was the one point of significance to the race before the finish, with Team BikeExchange upping the tempo coming up the rise to point, sending a small group clear to contest the remaining sprint points, with Colbrelli taking 15 points, Matthews 13 and classification leader Cavendish missing out entirely after being unable to follow the pace.  

Houle caught with 36 kilometres to go as Lucas Hamilton went to the front of the race to set a fast pace up the climbs to hurt the pure sprinters' legs and advantage his team leader Matthews ahead of the finish.

World champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) went really hard at the front with 30 kilometres to go in an attempt to splinter the peloton, but the wind direction wasn't really conducive to echelons forming and the pace went to a more normal level until the pace was reapplied with 15 kilometres remaining. Splits formed with 12 kilometres left after sustained pressure at the front of the race.

Deceuninck-QuickStep took control of the race with just under four kilometres remaining, keeping Cavendish close to the front of the race until the final dash to the line. The Belgian team continued their stellar leadout deep into the finale, with Asgreen, Ballerini and Mørkøv doing a superb job and Cavendish just having to ride just over 100 metres in the wind by himself.

He hit the front and managed to hold off van Aert and a fast-finishing Jasper Philipsen to take his 33rd Tour de France victory. The top Australian finisher was Michael Matthews, doing his green jersey chances no harm with his fifth-placed finish.  

Race leader Tadej Pogačar kept his lead in the yellow jersey intact, navigating the crosswind drama and finishing in the front group, as Australian Ben O'Connor maintained his challenge on the overall standings in second.

The Tour de France heads to 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 2:23am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS