Mark Cavendish couldn't beat André Greipel to the line in Paris on the final stage of the 2015 Tour de France

Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quick-Step) was unable to make it a perfect ending for Britain at the 2015 Tour de France like he did in 2012, as he failed match the power of André Greipel on the final sprint into Paris on Sunday’s climax to the race.

A four-time winner of the final Tour stage to the Champs-Élysées, Cavendish had his hopes set on another win but eventually was only able to finish sixth, as this year’s most successful sprinter Greipel powered to his fourth stage win.

Yet the Manxman remained in high spirits at the finish despite not really contesting the finale and  refused to blame the illness he has been suffering with in recent days for his performance.

>>> Watch: Highlights from stage 21 of the Tour de France

“We knew we were going to strong in the first week, it’s definitely the hardest tour I’ve ever done,” Cavendish told press at the finish. “We survived to try and get to here, and you can see it’s taken its toll on me a little bit. I’ve had bronchitis for the last couple of days and a fever last night.

“[I] still thought with 110km today we’d give it a shot, but actually is wasn’t really my fitness that let me down to day, it was just some more organised trains if I’m honest. I kind of just chose the wrong wheel I guess.”

Cavendish’s only stage win of this year’s race into Fougères on stage seven will still spell a relief for him, as he claimed his first win in the race since 2013. But the absence of Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) wasn’t enough to spark a renaissance for the 26-time Tour stage winner, with another German stepping forward to take up the crown of sprint king.

“Let’s be honest it’s been four times for Greipel, it’s a great run isn’t it,” Etixx sporting director Brian Holm said on Cavendish’s performance at the finish.

“It was a pure sprint and it’s no coincidence that Greipel won three stages before and he picked number four, he was simply better. So congratulations to Lotto and Greipel for a great job.”

Holm added: “I know he was a bit ill and he didn’t feel well, but that’s part of the race and a lot of riders start to feel unwell.”

The 2015 edition of the Tour was the seventh Cavendish has completed and while it may not have been the runaway personal success he may have hoped for, the former Team Sky man seemed resolved to return and do it all again in 2016, as well as expressing his delight for his former teammates and their overall success.

“It’s great see how much British support we had out here,” he said. “I’m so happy for the Sky boys, it would have been nice [for me] to finish it off here, but it’s another great Tour de France for British cycling.”

Highlights of stage 21 of the 2015 Tour de France 

  • RobTM

    Well Renshaw wasn’t with Sky in 2012, Eisel was/is so I thought you meant this year, rather than the HTC days.
    Indeed Renshaw has been Cav’s most reliable lead out man, ever. Wiggins amusingly did actually get hired once to help with Cav’s lead out, before he placed high in TdF GC for Garmin and likely inspired one of Wiggin’s post-win quotes, which the press missed the point behind the humour.

  • NitroFan

    I was refering to previous tours in context of your original post.

  • RobTM

    Earlier in tour, Renshaw had dropped out like Martin, so Cav wasn’t expected to have an organised train on Champs

  • SYLVIA Barbieri

    I think we should all remember just how Much Cav has given to this sport .How much pleasure given watching him come from nowhere to win.being told he had to win four stages to keep his place on the team might not have helped. Come on Cab.

  • d9veNI

    What excuses?? for fuck’s sake grow up.

  • Eric

    “Do not squeeze the lemon dry” – Horatio Luro (renowned trainer of champion thoroughbred Northern Dancer, @2:00, second fastest Kentucky Derby in history, behind only Secretariat (I do not credit Monarchos, @”1:59.97″ on a hard skinned track yet with no other such class runs; and, with modern timing shaving 1/100ths off traditional 1/5th second timings))

  • Aurelio

    I agree with everything that you wrote. Since 2013 when he rode the Giro and won the red jersey and got in the tour and won “only” 2 stages he never had a good program for the months before the Tour.
    He is 30 now and should be winning, but he has to take better care of himself. He can´t race a lot and get to the Tour tired.

  • Nic Lowe

    The only things that are unfrickingbelievable are your comments.

  • dourscot

    A number of people thought Cav’s programme pre-Tour was far too heavy.

    He rode the Tour of California for commercial reasons then the gruelling mountainous Tour of Switzerland. Greipel stuck to the flat ZLM Ster Tour and half the Giro (where he was pretty average by all accounts).

  • dourscot

    I don’t agree – you could have said the same about Greipel before 2015 – he was distinctly average at every previous Tour. He’s three years older than Cavendish too.

    The advantage Greipel had was he was under-raced compared to Cavendish. Cav raced too much, won a pile of races and suffered the consequence of a programme that comes with being rated at the top.

    Interesting that the two riders who won the most races – Cavendish and Kristoff – had mediocre Tours.

  • NitroFan

    Didnt Mark Renshaw help him quite a bit as well?

  • RobTM

    But Greipel was born in 1982, Cav 1985 so writing Cav off is premature. I agree Cav’s off his best; almost everyone would have expected him to win most of the sprints

  • RobTM

    From what I saw in slow motion play back. Cavendish was beginning sprint from far too far back, he even got mis-labelled on Eurosport for another Etix-Quickstep rider who had Sagan’s wheel and was probably where Cav would have liked to be and didn’t even contest the sprint. Cav gained on leaders briefly but from hopelessly far behind out of the last corner, partially blocked and ran out of gas switching off and coasting once he knew he was coming “nowhere”. All rather different, from when Wiggin’s and Eisel, helped Cav win by a wide margin.
    Congrats to Greipel for really getting it together this year!!

  • rshimizu12

    All champions face their own mortality and Cavendish is beginning to as well. Probably more so than other riders due to the extreme speed that is needed. Also remember that fast twitch muscles don’t due well as one get’s older.

  • Unfrickingbelievable

    This year’s Tour was just as hard for everyone else. Excuses aside, Cavendish is obviously getting weaker.