Tour de France

Tour de France (34)

Mark Cavendish outsprinted Jasper Philipsen and Nacer Bouhanni to claim his second stage win of this year's Tour de France.

The Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider followed up his stage four triumph with victory in Thursday's stage six from Tours to Chateauroux.

Cavendish's first stage win was in Chateauroux 13 years ago and he is now within two victories of the all-time record of 34, held by Eddy Merckx.

"It was nice. Wow," Cavendish said in his post-race interview. "It's 10 years since I last won here. It's pretty special and actually in pretty similar fashion today."

Asked if Merckx's record is in his sights, Cavendish said: "I am not thinking about anything.

"If it was my first or my 32nd, I have just won a stage of the Tour de France. That is what people ride their whole lives for."

Thursday's 160.6-kilometre ride was always likely to suit the sprinters and so that proved from the off with a high pace being set.

Greg van Avermaet and Roger Kluge led the breakaway but were caught by the peloton.

Cavendish positioned himself behind Philipsen and Tim Merlier and overhauled the pair in the last 100 metres.

Bouhanni attempted to snatch the win on the line but his late push came too late to stop Cavendish, who extends his lead over Philipsen to 46 points in the green jersey standings.

Philipsen's Alpecin-Fenix team-mate Mathieu van der Poel retained the yellow jersey, meanwhile, with no changes to the general classification after Thursday's leg.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar is eight seconds back ahead of stage seven, which will take the riders from Vierzon to Le Creusot and contains a number of lumpy climbs.

It was also confirmed that Tour de France organisers have withdrawn their complaint against a spectator who caused a big crash on the opening stage.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 3:17:36
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) same time
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic) same time
4. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) same time
5. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 20:09:17
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +00:08
3. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +00:30

Points Classification
1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 148
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 102
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic) 99

King of the Mountains
1. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) 5
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 4
3. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 3

Mark Cavendish claimed an emotional victory to cap a fourth stage in the Tour de France that had begun with a rider protest.

Sprint legend Cavendish claimed his 31st stage win – albeit this was his first since 2016 – as he came through in a battle for the line to round out a 150.4-kilometre journey from Redon to Fougeres.

Clearly overwhelmed at his achievement, the British rider struggled for words during his post-race interview, admitting he feared there would be no further opportunities to add to his impressive career tally at Le Tour.

His place on the Deceuninck–Quick-Step squad only came about after an injury to Sam Bennett, the unexpected chance allowing the 36-year-old to end a drought spanning four years and 348 days thanks to a trademark strong finish.

"I don't know what to say. Just being here is special enough, I didn't think I'd ever get to come back to this race," Cavendish – who now sits three wins short of Eddy Merckx's all-time stage record – told the media.

"So many people didn't believe in me, but these guys do. 

"I thought I was never coming back to this race, honestly. When you come to Deceuninck–Quick-Step, they've got the best riders in the world. The stars aligned somehow."

The drama at the end of proceedings came after the peloton had staged a protest as soon as Tuesday's proceedings started, a collective move made to raise concerns following a crash-filled Stage 3.

CPA Cycling - the association of active pro riders - issued a short statement on Twitter to explain the decision, with competitors hoping for a change to safety measures, including a change to the ruling over late accidents.

"At KM 0 of today's stage of the Tour de France, riders paused in solidarity as part of their calls for UCI to set up discussions to adapt the 3 km rule during stage races," CPA Cycling tweeted.

Primoz Roglic, who had suffered injuries after a heavy fall on Monday, was able to continue with the aid of plenty of strapping. Caleb Ewan was not so fortunate, however, as he was ruled out with a broken collarbone sustained after going down in the sprint, having tangled with Peter Sagan.

With the flat stage ideal for sprinters, Mathieu van der Poel was able to retain the yellow jersey. He remains eight seconds clear of Julian Alaphilippe.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 3:20:17
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic)
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix)
4. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange)
5. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 16:19:10
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:08
3. Richard Carparaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:31

Points Classification
1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 89
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 82
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 78

King of the Mountains
1. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) 5
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 4
3. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 3

Chris Froome's Tour de France hopes were left in tatters on the four-time champion's return to the race as he was caught up in the second of two major crashes on stage one, which saw Julian Alaphilippe lay down an early marker with victory.

The 197.8 kilometre ride from Brest to Landerneau had already been disrupted by a massive crash in the peloton at the 152km mark.

A collision between Tony Martin and a spectator's placard sent riders careering to the tarmac and saw the front of the race neutralised to allow the peloton to catch up.

Breakaway rider Ide Schelling, whose efforts on the climbs ensured he took the polka dot jersey at the end of the stage, was eventually reeled in, but there was more drama to come with 7.5km left.

Froome, making his first appearance at the Tour since 2018 for Israel Start-Up Nation, was left on the ground after another crash that came about in less controversial circumstances, with Greg Van Avermaet and Richie Porte also involved.

Those fortunate to avoid the carnage were left with the opportunity to pick up huge amounts of time on other general classification contenders and world champion Alaphilippe grasped that chance with both hands, the Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider attacking with 2.2km to go and making the move stick.

The Frenchman crossed the line to delight the home fans, ensuring he will swap the rainbow jersey for the yellow jersey with his sixth stage win at the Tour.

Froome, who was seemingly finding it difficult to stand following his crash, succeeded in getting back on bike and riding to the finish at a pedestrian pace.

Even if he can recover, Froome's chances of claiming a fifth title this year are surely already gone.

 

A collision between Tony Martin and a spectator's placard led to a huge crash in the peloton on the first stage of the Tour de France.

Shortly after Ide Schelling had topped the final climb of the 197.8 kilometre ride from Brest to Landerneau to ensure he will finish the stage in the polka dot jersey, Martin was sent careering to the tarmac, his crash sending scores of riders to the ground.

The incident led the front of the race to be neutralised to allow those caught up in the crash to catch up, but Jasha Sutterlin of DSM was not able to do so.

Sutterlin was forced to abandon the race in an extremely unfortunate turn of events for a rider competing in only his second Tour.

Schelling was eventually caught by the peloton once the race was allowed to restart at normal speed.

Tadej Pogacar emulated Eddy Merckx with his historic Tour de France victory last year and could face an epic battle with compatriot Primoz Roglic this time around.

Tour debutant Pogacar became the first Slovenian to win the race last September, on the eve of his 22nd birthday.

The UAE-Team Emirates rider is the favourite as he attempts to go back-to-back in a race that starts in Brest on Saturday, but Roglic is a man on a mission after missing out on the 2020 title to his countryman in dramatic fashion.

Geraint Thomas, the 2018 champion, will go in search of a second Tour triumph and Richard Carapaz could also mount a challenge, with Egan Bernal not in the INEOS Grenadiers line-up following his Giro d'Italia triumph.

Chris Froome, winner of the general classification on four occasions, will play a support role in the Israel Start-Up Nation team for Michael Woods, while Mark Cavendish was given a late call-up.

Here, Stats Perform picks out the big stories and standout Opta facts ahead of the 108th edition of the prestigious Grand Tour race, which finishes in Paris on July 18.

 

REFRESHED ROGLIC BIDS TO TURN TABLES

Pogacar went down as the second-youngest winner of the Tour last year behind Frenchman Henri Cornet way back in 1904.

A sensational time-trial ride on the penultimate stage up the Planche des Belles Filles saw Pogacar snatch the yellow jersey from Roglic.

Pogacar won the Tour of Slovenia this month, while Roglic should be refreshed as he will line up for the Grand Depart having not raced for two months.

The defending champion was the first rider to win the yellow jersey, polka dot jersey (mountains classification) and white jersey (young rider classification) in the same Tour de France and will have to deal with a weight of expectation over the new few weeks.

Roglic looked to have the title in the bag last year until Pogacar produced the ride of his life to leave his fellow Slovenian shellshocked.

 

DAUNTING MONT VENTOUX DOUBLE, TWO TIME TRIALS

There will be six mountain stages, three of which will end with high-altitude finishes in a race that will see the riders head to Andorra.

A double climb of Mont Ventoux during the 190-kilometre stage 11 from Sorgues to Malaucene will provide a huge test.

There will also be two individual time trials, on stage five from Change to Laval and the penultimate stage from Libourne to Saint-Emilion.

A 249.1km stage seven from Vierzon to Le Creusot will be the longest in the Tour for 21 years, finishing with a demanding ascent of the Signal d'Ucho and with 3,000 metres of elevation to tackle overall.

 

WORLD CHAMPION ALAPHILIPPE TO FLY THE FLAG

Julian Alaphilippe will be the first Frenchman to compete in the Tour as world champion since Laurent Brochard in 1998.

The world champion was one of the main protagonists at the Tour de Suisse this month but does not expect to mount a challenge to become the first French winner of the yellow jersey since Bernard Hinault in 1985.

Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Alaphilippe said: "The main goal at Le Tour will be to get a stage victory. To raise my hands there, at the biggest race in the world, with the world champion jersey on my shoulders, would be something really special.

"The first week is going to be an important one, with several opportunities. We will give our best there, as we always do. A successful Tour for me would be a beautiful victory and to show some good things together with the team."

 

LATE CALL FOR CAVENDISH

Mark Cavendish was given a late call-up to end a three-year wait to compete again in the Tour.

The 36-year-old was on Monday named as Deceuninck-QuickStep's lead sprinter after 2020 green jersey winner Sam Bennett was ruled out due to injury.

Cavendish hinted that he might be ready to retire after the Gent-Wevelgem last year, but he has been resurgent in 2021.

Only the legendary Merckx (34) has more Tour stage victories than Cavendish's tally of 30.

 

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