Tour de France

Jumpy Cavendish happy with fourth

2017-07-02 19:59
Mark Cavendish (Scott Mitchell)

Liege - Mark Cavendish claimed he was happy with a fourth-placed stage finish at the Tour de France on Sunday after missing two months of the season with illness.

The 31-year-old sprint star contracted glandular fever earlier this season and his Tour build-up was seriously affected.

In fact, it was touch and go whether he would even make it to the start line and he admitted during the week that he would need luck to win a stage.

Having already won 30 Tour stages since 2008 -- putting him second on the all-time list behind Eddy Merckx with 34 -- Cavendish is never normally happy with second, let alone fourth.

"I was on the ideal wheel in the end but when (Marcel) Kittel went, I was sprinting in his wheel and there was no way I could go past him," said the Briton.

"It's as I expected, I'm happy with that. Six weeks training and fourth on a stage of the Tour.

"You always want to win but fourth on a Tour stage is a lot better than I expected.

"I didn't feel like I had power in my legs. I got where I was by jumping on other wheels to get up."

Ironically, Kittel said he'd used the same tactic to get in the right position to win the second stage from Dusseldorf to Liege.

"It continues a bit like last year's (sprint finishes), what we saw there as well," said Kittel, referring to the fact that no-one's sprint train managed to function in the final kilometre to set up their leader.

The sprint-train had become an integral part of Tour stages since Italian Mario Cipollini had an entire team dedicated to bringing him to the front for a sprint finish.

He won 12 Tour stages that way in the 1990s, as well as 42 at the Giro d'Italia and three at the Vuelta a Espana.

"It's really hard to set up those Cipollini lead-out trains," said Kittel.

"That time is gone. I had to jump from wheel to wheel."

Kittel claimed the 203.5km stage win, his 10th in total, ahead of Frenchman Arnaud Demare, with fellow German Andre Greipel third.

Read more on:    tdf 2017  |  mark cavendish  |  cycling
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