MARK Cavendish?s dream of crowning his Tour de France debut with a stage win ended in frustration in Bourg en Bresse today when the Manxman rolled in 181st on stage six.
The T-Mobile rider has endured pitiful luck in the Tour?s first week; knocked off by a spectator on stage one, then wiped out in the final stages of stage two by Manuel Quinziato who himself had been brought down by German Erik Zabel.
Today was Cavendish?s final chance of a stage win, but yet again he was denied the chance of even contesting the sprint finish, ?I was on [Tom] Boonen?s wheel, the best wheel I could have been on,? he said after the finish.
?It was a narrow finish, and we flicked across the road and his rear mech went in my spokes, I was lucky not to crash again. My wheel blew up and I had to stop and get a wheel change.?
Cavendish had been shepherded to the front of bunch by his team mates and dropped in just behind Boonen who himself had a perfect lead-out from his Quick Step team mates. But as the road narrowed and wound it?s way to the finish, Cavendish was caught out as Boonen moved across him with little more than a kilometre to go.
The incident wrecked Boonen?s rear mech and the former world champion admitted that he won the stage while stuck in his biggest gear.
The race hits the Alps tomorrow and Cavendish will be pulled out by his team after Sunday?s stage to Tignes as they aim to protect their young sprinter.
Geraint Thomas, the youngest rider in the race, continued to impress in his role as lead-out man for team mate Robert Hunter. Thomas finished in 15th spot having helped Hunter to eighth.