Cavendish wins dramatic day | SASCOC - SASCOC

Cavendish wins dramatic day

By Mark Etheridge

Britain’s Mark Cavendish picked up his third stage win of the Tour de France, emerging triumph from a mass sprint finish in the 11th stage on Thursday.

With the 184.5-kilometre stage being raced under a blazing sun, the Isle of Man rider clocked 4hr 42min 29sec for the ride between Sisteron and Bourg-les-Valence, a midly undulating stage, perfect for the sprinters.

Unfortunately there was no South African in contention this time round, after Garmin-Transitions’ Robbie Hunter failed to start Thursday’s stage after breaking a small bone in his elbow on Wednesday.

The Garmin-Transitions team was nevertheless still in the news with Cavendish’s HTC-Colombia teammate Mark Renshaw summarily “red-carded” from the race after the Australian rider had head-butted Garmin’s Kiwi cyclist Julian Dean.

Commenting on Renshaw’s disqualification, Hunter, who now has his arm in a sling, said on his Twitter feed: “Just watched the sprint finish & Renshaw should not do that s**t..good to see the coms booted his arse out the race. They damn good riders & there is no need for that at all.. specially in 70km/h sprint..that’s looking for ppl to crash. Cav was good again… good job to him.”

In terms of the General Classication (GC) Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck shows no signs of relinquishing the race leader’s yellow jersey and he, defending champion Alberto Contador and third placed Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez all finished in the main bunch, with the same time as Cavendish.

But seven-time TDF winner Lance Armstrong lost further ground when he finished the stage 29sec in arrears.

Schleck still boasts a 41sec gap on Contador with Gonzalez 2:45 back. Fourth-placed Dennis Menchov is two seconds shy of three minutes back and it’s hard to see anyone outside the top three coming through to take honours in Paris on July 25. Armstrong is now 17:51 down the field in 32nd spot.

Hunter’s remaining Garmin-Transitions team riders maintained their 17th spot, 1:29:22 behind leading team Caisse d’Epargne.

Friday’s 12th stage finishes at the Mende’s aerodrome after a 210km ride from Bourg-de-Peage. Four categorised climbs lie in wait and if the mercury climbs again there are chances of a surprise win. The finish is fondly known as Mont├®e Lauren Jalabert after the popular French rider won a stage here on Bastille Day 15 years ago.