Cavendish ends two-year Tour drought

Mark Cavendish earned a first Tour de France success in almost two years as he sprinted to victory on stage seven.

The 30-year-old’s 26th win takes him two behind Bernard Hinault (28), while Eddy Merckx’s record stands at 34.

Cavendish powered past Andre Greipel about 50m from the line on an uphill finish in Fougeres to avenge two losses to the German earlier in the Tour.

Briton Chris Froome retained the lead, having inherited it when

Tony Martin retired after crashing on Thursday.

Geraint Thomas

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Yellow jersey is boost – Thomas


did not start stage seven in the race leader’s yellow jersey

though, because Martin crossed the finish line on stage six as the race leader and then pulled out.

After receiving the yellow jersey, Froome said: “It’s a huge privilege to be back in yellow but certainly under these circumstances it wasn’t ideal.”

With Martin, who had flown overnight for surgery, watching from his hospital bed in Hamburg, Cavendish said before the stage started that he wanted a win to dedicate to his Etixx – Quick-Step team-mate.

And afterwards the Manxman, whose last Tour win was on stage 13 in 2013, reiterated: “After such a loss with Tony, it was so nice to get a win. It’s for Tony.

“My team was motivated. It was incredible. I just wanted it so bad. I’m really happy.”

Tony Martin

Martin tweeted: “So proud of my team Etixx – Quick-Step – Congrats! Mark Cavendish makes me cheering in my hospital bed.”

When asked what the difference between winning and losing had been, he said: “The team’s been phenomenal, it’s just me that’s let them down in the sprints.

“I just waited a little longer. I was more patient, so I could use my speed at the end.”

Cavendish celebrated with eight-months pregnant wife Peta and three-year-old daughter Delilah.

“I’ve waited a week for this win personally,” Cavendish said. “She (Delilah) was angry I didn’t get the flowers in the last days. Today she’s happy.”

The race followed a formulaic pattern with five riders breaking clear early on. Among them was Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot, who on Thursday became the first black African rider to wear the polka dot jersey as leader of the King of the Mountains classification.

He was chasing the one point on offer for reaching the summit of the day’s only categorised climb after 13km and duly obliged to retain the jersey.

From then it was all about setting up the sprint finish.

The quintet out front had dwindled to a pair by the time they were caught with about 10km remaining.

Greipel’s Lotto-Soudal team-mates looked to have led their man out to perfection on the run-in to the line, which climbed 4% in the closing few hundred metres.

Cavendish looked like he had no path through as he came out of the slipstream of Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff inside the final 100m but he found a gap to take the win and 50 points in the race for the green jersey.

Peter Sagan finished third to claim four bonus seconds and move up to second overall, 11 seconds behind Froome, in the only change at the top of the general classification.

Saturday’s stage eight features a 2km climb to the summit finish on Mur de Bretagne. It is a finish that could suit Sagan, who, with 10 bonus seconds on offer to the winner, could take the race lead.

However, he said: “I have to drop him (Froome) in the climb and I don’t think I can do that.”

Greipel leads the green jersey classification on 199 points, with Sagan second on 187 and Cavendish third on 151.

Mark Cavendish (centre) and Andre Greipel (right) vying for the win

Cavendish’s last victory at the Tour de France was on stage 13 in 2013

Andre Greipel

Greipel’s consolation is that he gets to keep the green jersey as leader of the points classification

Chris Froome

Froome gets another cuddly Tour lion as he takes over in yellow for stage eight

Daniel Teklehaimanot

Eritrea’s Daniel Teklehaimanot keeps hold of the King of the Mountains jersey after another great day for MTN Qhubeka

Stage seven result:

1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Etixx – Quick-Step 4hrs, 27mins, 25secs

2. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal Same time

3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo

4. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant Alpecin

5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha

6. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ

7. Tyler Farrar (US) MTN-Qhubecka

8. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (SA) MTN-Qhubecka

9. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida

10. Sam Bennett (Ire) Bora-Argon 18

General classification:

1. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky 26hrs 40mins 51secs

2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo +11secs

3. Tejay van Garderen (US) BMC Racing +13secs

4. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal +26secs

5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing +28secs

6. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step +34secs

7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo +36secs

8. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step +52secs

9. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky +1min 03secs

10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant Alpecin +1min 07secs

Selected others:

12. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana +1min 38secs

16. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar +1min 56secs

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