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Cavendish helps African dream continue at Tour de France
- Updated: July 17, 2016
The Dimension Data dream continued at the Tour de France on Saturday Mark Cavendish made it another incredible day for the African side as he won stage 14.
It was Cavendish’s fourth win of the Tour and the African Team’s fifth of the race this year. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) finished second and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) placed third.
The 208-kilometres from Montelimar to Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux was always looked at as being a stage for the sprinters. It was a stage that sprint ace, Cavendish had targeted weeks ago and so the African Team’s plan was clear from early on in the stage.
When four riders went clear in a breakaway attempt, Natnael Berhane went to the front of the peloton to control the gap.
The threat of crosswinds was constant throughout the day and so the African team made sure to keep the gap under four minutes for the entire day while also keeping Cavendish protected at the head of the peloton. With 25km to go, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Serge Pauwels took over from Berhane and began upping the tempo with a dangerous crosswind section coming up.
The faster pace meant the breakaway was caught just inside 10km to go and a few riders then lost contact with the head of the race.
Cavendish and the Team Dimension Data troops were perfectly positioned to execute their plan for the finale.
Bernhard Eisel was flawless in piloting the guys up until 6km to go and then South African, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg took over.
For the final kilometre Cavendish had Boasson Hagen as his guardian right up until the Manxman fixed himself to the wheel of Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep).
Kittel launched the sprint with around 250m to go and Cavendish was poised to jump going around the final right hand bend. He did so perfectly, rocketing into the lead and across the line first to take his 30th career Tour de France stage victory.
A phenomenal achievement for the Manxman and a special win for the African Team, coming on the final day of our #Qhubeka5000 challenge campaign.
Cavendish said afterwards: ‘It was a great day, it was a long day and it was easy to lose concentration and waste energy on a day like today. When it’s a headwind and the sun is out like that, you really have to try preserve yourself. The guys made sure I had everything I needed and was sheltered from the wind the whole day.
‘Natnael rode the whole day from the front and then it was important to be on the front from a long way out because of the narrow road. We had Daniel and Serge riding to control the bunch and catch the breakaway. We had to use Bernie up early as well. He had to drop us off with 6km to go.
‘From then on it was Reinie and Edvald looking after me. With 2km to go I saw Etixx-Quickstep were a little undermanned for a headwind finish, so I made sure I was on Marcel’s wheel.
‘Edvald stayed there with me to make sure I was sheltered from the wind and I just rode of the back of those. Kittel was left a little early into the headwind so I waited until he got his peak speed and then jumped around him for the line.
‘I’m really happy with another win for Team Dimension Data and more exposure for Qhubeka, to get 5000 children on bicycles.’