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And then there were four. One of the five Brits, Mark Cavendish left the Tour at Tignes, a few hours ahead of schedule, when he climbed off after being dropped early on the second Alpine stage. T-Mobile had always planned to pull him out at Tignes after giving the 22-year-old a crash course in what the Tour de France is all about.

'Crash' course is probably an apt phrase, too, given how much time the Manxman spent picking himself up off the deck. He even enjoyed the dubious honour of being last man overall - the Lanterne Rouge - for a day.

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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.