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- Skhosana starts his 2017 season in France
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- Olympian Barrow chooses SA over Australia
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Another memorable day in France with a second win for Africa’s team
- Updated: July 5, 2016
Dimension Data’s delight continued at the 103rd edition of the Tour de France on Monday as Mark Cavendish sprinted to his second stage win of the tour.
Spearheading the African team’s challenge, Cavendish stole the show by powering to an incredible photo finish sprint victory over Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).
It was the 28th Tour de France stage win of the sprinter’s career, and came just 48 hours after his stage one win.
It was a long 223-kilometre haul from Granville to Angers, and when only Armindo Fonseca (Fortuneo Vital Concept) tried his luck in the early break, it resulted in a rather pedestrian-like stage. Fonseca was allowed a maximum lead of just over nine minutes as the peloton knew they could bring the lone Frenchman back at will.
Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) decided to join the lone escapee with 80km to go but being a flat stage, the writing was on the wall – it was going to be a sprint finish.
Dimension Data were again looking to deliver Cavendish to prime position for the finale in Angers, after extensive research went into the final kilometres of the stage.
With 8km to go and the break caught, the African outfit saw Bernhard Eisel lining Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Mark Renshaw up in front of Mark Cavendish.
Janse van Rensburg, the only South African in the line-up, was instrumental in determining the final result as the Pretoria rider put in a bruteforce turn from 6.5km to go until 2.5km to go. Boasson Hagen was then in control as the peloton went under the one-kilometre-to-go banner, before Renshaw piloted Cavendish to prime position from where to launch his sprint.
The Manxman came off the wheel of the German champion in the final 150m, as both riders lunged for the line. The finish-line photo showed that Cavendish had won by a mere tyre’s width over Greipel and Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) took third place.
It was another incredible win for Team Dimension Data and Cavendish, who is now, with 28 stage wins, tied for second with Bernard Hinault for the most number of stage wins at the Tour de France ever.
After the day’s magnificent team effort, Cavendish moved into the lead in the Green Jersey points competition with 123 points and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) sec on, on 116 points.
‘I’m incredibly happy with this second win,’ said Cavendish. ‘We planned it for a long time this morning, we had a long team meeting about how the finish would go and it went pretty much exactly how we planned.
‘It’s good that the guys stayed calm and collected. It would have been easy for them to have pulled and then got out of the way with the hectic final, but they stayed patient. Edvald stayed patient, Mark stayed patient and then at the right minute I was able to get on Andre Greipel’s wheel.
‘I knew he’d hit it early, actually he was stronger than I thought he’d be. Andre has guts, he rides like that. I actually didn’t beat him in the sprint, I beat him with the lunge. This is another great win for the team but more importantly, it raises the profile of Qhubeka yet again, and that is the reason we are here.’
Tuesday’s fourth stage is the longest of the tour, a 232km ride from Saumer to Limoges. When Limoges last staged a Tour finish in 2000 it was the last time the tour has seen a day-long solo break, by France’s Christophe Agnolutto.
The stage sees a gradual climb in the second half but nothing too serious and it looks like being yet another sprint finish before the true climbs start on Wednesday.