Mark Cavendish wins again
The comeback continues.
We don’t need to repeat the story and instead just need to praise Isle of Man's favourite son.
Class is permanent, as they say, but what is spectacular about Cavendish’s win is his age: he is 36. His age would indicate that he has no right to be the fastest man in the field, but he clearly is.
His win in Châteauroux – the third time he’s won in the city - was classic Cavendish, too. He had a good lead-out and then switched his line, pulling in behind Alpecin-Fenix before timing his final attack perfectly.
Of all his 32 stage wins – and he’s not just two behind that magic number – this was as vintage Cavendish as they come.
The fairy-tale is still being written.
Is green on the agenda?
Cavendish came to the Tour, his 13th participation in the race, looking for a dream stage win.
His double success so far is not just a surprise to him, but it is giving him a real and probable chance of winning the race’s green jersey for only the second time.
Jasper Philipsen is his closest contender, 46 points adrift of him, while Peter Sagan, who has won the points classification seven times, has been surprisingly quiet so far and is 76 points shy of Cavendish’s tally of 148 points.
For every stage he wins, the Briton is collecting 50 points and if he continues at this rate, as well as picking up a good number of points in each stages’ intermediate sprint, Cavendish will be on track for a scarcely believable second green jersey.
Another rider to keep an eye on is Michael Matthews. The Australian won the classification in 2017, and he looks especially motivated to repeat his success this year. He is currently 52 points off Cavendish.
Alpecin-Fenix showing bigger teams up
Jasper Philipsen finished second in the stage behind Cavendish, the third time in four days that the Belgian has ridden to a top-three finish but missed out on the top spot.
His team-mates Mathieu van der Poel and Tim Merlier were victorious on stage two and three respectively, and although the team weren’t able to make it a hat-trick, the ProTeam outfit appear to be the best sprint team in the race.
Despite being in the sport’s second tier, Alpecin-Fenix are performing significantly better than almost all WorldTour teams, and there’s an argument to say even better than Deceuninck – Quick-Step, even if Cavendish has just won the last two sprint stages.
Alpecin-Fenix have got a clear plan that is delivering them results, and they will be the envy of teams with bigger budgets who have a top-tier licence.
Lotto-Soudal are without possibly the fastest rider in the peloton, Caleb Ewan, but more is expected of other sprint teams in the race.
Mathieu van der Poel stays in yellow
Of course it was expected that he would, but Mathieu van der Poel’s stint in yellow continues for at least another day.
Stage six was the fourth consecutive day that the Dutchman has led the race and he is playing the role exemplary well, including forming part of his Alpecin-Fenix team’s sprint train.
It’s likely that the 26-year-old will stay in yellow into the weekend before ceding it on Saturday when the race hits the mountain.
Wearing the yellow jersey is something his grandfather Raymond Poulidor was unable to do, and Van der Poel is not taking the honour lightly, savouring the moments and trying to hold onto it for as long as possible.
He understands the privilege and the achievement and is guarding it with the respect it deserves.
That was a proper Tour de France summer’s day
The opening stages of the race have been characterised by rain and not very summery conditions, but stage six felt like a proper Tour de France day.
You know, the days where nothing really happens, the commentators divert onto obscure tangents, and we’re left watching images of the peloton riding comfortably through the countryside, past excited villagers and, at times, beneath a near-total blue sky.
It was a picture-perfect Tour de France day. There are very few sports like cycling that you can watch while also potter about doing other jobs, and today was one of them days.
The racing wasn’t exciting, but the Tour is a celebration of France, of summer and, as corny as it says, of life in general. Today was quite blissful.
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