Tour de France

TDF returns to racing after day of mourning

2016-07-16 14:21
mark cavendish
Mark Cavendish (Getty Images)

Montlimar - Racing will return to the spotlight at the Tour de France on Saturday following the mournful atmosphere caused by Thursday night's terror attack in Nice.

Friday's time-trial was ridden amidst a sad backdrop of 84 people having died the night before in one of the worst terror attacks on French soil.

Yet the opportunity to take a stage victory and the hope of returning to normality should ensure the sprinters' teams help refocus everyone's minds on the task at hand.

The 208.5km 14th stage from Montelimar to Parc des Oiseaux provides the sprinters with their only remaining truly flat stage before the finale on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

It means that for the likes of Germany's Andre Greipel, this is the penultimate chance to save his Tour and take a much vaunted stage win.

The burly Lotto Soudal sprinter won four stages last year but the closest he's come in the 2016 edition was a photo-finish defeat to Briton Mark Cavendish on stage three.

Marcel Kittel is another German that is in need of some cheer.

He did win a stage, the fourth in Limoges, in a photo-finish even tighter than the one the day before, but it's been an otherwise disappointing Tour for the Etixx sprinter.

In 2013 and 2014 he was the dominant force in straight line speed, winning four stages in each edition.

But this year, the 28-year-old has made more noise complaining about safety than for his performances.

Something that Cavendish, who beat the German into second on the opening stage, put down to Kittel being unhappy about not winning.

"At the end of the day, as a sprinter, and I can speak from first-hand experience, the first thing you do when you don't win is rue an opportunity and blame other factors," said the 31-year-old.

"I do it myself, Marcel does it and Greipel does it.

"It's part of it, your adrenaline's going, it's not just one person versus another.

"There are so many other factors into a sprint that you can take maybe one of a thousand reasons why you didn't win, just as you can take one of maybe a thousand reasons why you did win."

Cavendish has been on fire during this Tour, winning three stages and suggesting he's approaching the form that saw him win 20 stages from 2008-2011.

He has 29 in total and sits second on the all-time list behind Belgian great Eddy Merckx, a five-time Tour winner.

Saturday's sprint finish is long and straight and should not only give the sprinters a classic test of true force, but remove any potential excuses for those who come up short.

Read more on:    tdf 2016  |  cycling

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