Manx Missile Records 26th Career Tour de France Victory; Froome in Yellow
Etixx – Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish maneuvered his way to a sprint win in the 190.5km Tour de France Stage 7 on Friday. The Manx Missile weaved around from being boxed in behind Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), to launching perfectly off the wheel of Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) to cross the line as the victor.
Greipel was 2nd, and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished 3rd.
Mark Renshaw escorted Mark through the middle of the chaos just in time for the finale, despite an aggressive fight on the front for position between leadout trains of the peloton.
Etixx – Quick-Step also worked hard to control the gap of an original five-rider breakaway. Rider Michal Golas spent plenty of kilometers pulling on the front.
Etixx – Quick-Step has now won three stages of Le Tour de France in the first week, including two in a row following the victory of Zdenek Stybar in Stage 6 on Thursday. Tony Martin, who spent two stages in yellow before crashing and being forced to withdraw, also won the 4th Stage.
Rigoberto Uran is currently 6th GC, 34″ down on Chris Froome (Team Sky). Zdenek Stybar is 8th, down 52 seconds.
Cavendish’s win brings the Etixx – Quick-Step road win tally to 37 in the 2015 season. This is the 26th Tour de France stage victory of the British rider.
Le Tour de France moves on to Stage 8, from Rennes to Mûr-de-Bretagne, on Saturday. Stage 8 may be the first real opportunity for GC contenders to establish some time gaps. The Mûr-de-Bretagne concludes the 181.5km stage, and the riders will have to fight for two kilometers on a 6.9% average gradient with some steep ramps.
“The last two sprints the team did well,” Cavendish said. “I’ve just been too anxious and gone too early. The thing about Le Tour, in another race you maybe wait. In Le Tour you don’t want to wait. In another race you maybe got one or two guys coming around you. In Le Tour you have 10 guys coming around you, there are so many strong sprinters and teams here. If you hesitate, you lose the stage. I’ve just been a bit over anxious the last two times and today was about not being impatient. I almost left it too long this time, I waited so long. I saw Kristoff had two leadout men left. I knew they’d keep the pace high. It was too long for anybody with one more leadout man from the finish. Normally Kristoff goes early anyway, so I anticipated that he’d go soon enough and I could come off his wheel. But he waited and waited. Greipel actually got the jump. I was perfect on Greipel, but Guarnieri came backwards after leading out and I had to avoid him. I almost panicked at how close we were to the line. If Andre had closed off the barrier I may not have won. Andre sprinted straight. He’s a gentleman. I was able to come through and pass him on the right. I had the same power in my legs as I had the other days that ended in sprints. It’s just, if you wait and launch later, you’re going to go with more immediate power than you would with 250 or 300 meters to go like I did the other times. So, after being a little more patient, I’m super happy with my victory today, which is the 26th of my career. Every one of the 26 wins is special. At Le Tour de France even one victory makes a rider’s whole career. So, to get one every year except 2014 when I crashed out of Le Tour in the first stage is a big, big thing. Obviously it’s been the longest run for me without a win at the Tour de France, I think two years. So to get back to winning ways is certainly nice. Today my family is here, my wife Peta and my daughter Delilah. So it was super special to do it in front of them. I’d like to thank my teammates for doing great work to support me for this win today.”
Cavendish dedicated the win to Martin, who watched the race from the hospital after his surgery this morning.
“There’s no hiding the fact that losing Tony was going to be a big loss to the team,” Cavendish said. “But we said yesterday that we’d win for him today. To go out and win to get the yellow jersey like he did, it’s really sad. He’s an incredible part of this team, on and off the bike. It’s almost like we started the race with 12 guys and now we’ve got eight left. That’s what losing Tony is like. I’m so glad his surgery has gone well. We would have loved for him to be here today, and to celebrate with us tonight. We’re going to definitely dedicate this win to him at the celebration and I can’t wait to speak to him later. I think the way we rallied together, and around Tony, shows the spirit of Etixx – Quick-Step. I’ve grown with this team. I’m really happy. You’ve seen the ambience we’ve got here at Etixx – Quick-Step. We’re like a family, we’re always there for each other, and we share the same goals. Everyone knows I’m a fan of racing my bike. I love it. It’s everything to me. To be with a team of like-minded people, it’s really nice to come away and do it with people who share the same feeling. Now we look to the next days. We’ve got a really good momentum going with nine strong guys who proved this week that we can win in all kinds of situations. We’ll keep going for good results.”
Results – Stage 7: Livarot – Fougeres (190.5 km)
1. Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step) – 4:27:25
2. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal)
3. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo)
General Classification After Stage 7
1. Christopher Froome (Team Sky) – 26:40:51
2. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) – 0:00:11
3. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) – 0:00:13
4. Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) – 0:00:26
5. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) – 0:00:28
6. Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step – 0:00:34
7. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) – 0:00:36
8. Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick-Step) – 0:00:52
9. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) – 0:01:03
10. Warren Barguil (Team Giant-Alpecin) – 0:01:07
Jersey Leaders After Stage 7
Maillot Jaune – Christopher Froome (Team Sky)
Maillot Vert – André Greipel (Lotto Soudal)
Maillot á Pois Rouges – Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN – Qhubeka)
Maillot Blanc – Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo)
Best Team – BMC Racing Team
Next – Stage 8: Rennes – Mur de Bretagne (181.5 km)
Photo: Etixx – Quick-Step/Tim De Waele