For the first time in the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish has confirmed the green points jersey is now a major goal and admitted he is now ready to fight to keep defend all the way to Paris what he describes the ‘holy grail’ for sprinters.
So far Cavendish has always said he was focusing on stage victories but he has put his cards on the table for the first time and admitted to Cycling Weekly that he will be fighting to keep the green jersey all the way to Paris.
Cavendish and his Columbia team mates played a game of bluff with Thor Hushovd and their other sprint rivals on the stage to Vittel but still ran out the winners.
Cavendish gained two points on Hushovd by winning the first sprint and then gained another by beating Hushovd to eighth place at the finish. He now has a total of 200 points, 10 more than Hushovd.
“We discussed it this morning, about the possibility of green now,” he revealed to Cycling Weekly.
“Ok I’m eating my words because I said I wasn’t targeting but I’ve changed my mind. We went for the intermediate sprint and tried to get some points at the end.”
“We weren’t going to ride for the win. There were seven guys away and Ag2r rode well to keep the gap down but my guys are only human. They rode so hard all Tour and all yesterday and if other sprinters want to contest the sprint they can sprint it. I wanted to save my guys. The Alps are looming and I don’t want them suffering in the Alps, so we tried to rest as much as possible.”
Thor Hushovd has told Norwegian journalists that he is no longer going for the green jersey but Cavendish does not believe him.
“If you notice I said all along I wasn’t going for it but now I am. That’s how it is. I don’t think he’ll give up. I know he’s a great guy and will want to put on a show for his fans and his sponsors so I don’t think he’s going to give up. It’s the green jersey, you know.”
Cavendish loves wearing the green jersey and talks emotionally when asked why it is so special.
“It’s the holy grail for sprinters and it’s an emotional thing to wear, I love wearing it. I’m never going to win the yellow, so this is the next biggest thing I’m going to get.”
That can only mean that he’s going to fight for it all the way to Paris.
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS
Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.
Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record
Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win
Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire
stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out
Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance
Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs
Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage
Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second
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Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador
Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint
Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial
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