After limiting Mark Cavendish's support to just two riders for the last two flat sprint stages
in the 2012 Tour de France
, Team Sky put pretty much the whole team to the front for the run-in to today's finish in Saint Quentin.
Cavendish ended up on the floor on yesterday's run-in to Rouen but was in a fit enough state to contest today's gallop.
But according to team principle Dave Brailsford, Sky's move to the front in the stage's closing miles was as much about protecting Bradley Wiggins from chaos in the bunch charge as offering Cavendish more support for the gallop.
"From Bradley's point of view we're getting closer to the mountains and -there's today and tomorrow left-so we're like ‘OK guys it's time to commit to the front of this race'," he said. "That's what we did from about 30km out. We said we're going to really try and ride hard at the front to protect Mark plus protect Bradley."
As the finish approached, Wiggins himself took a pull on the front of the bunch. Brailsford dismissed any suggestion that this could be wasting energy ahead of the mountains.
"The key thing is we know the safest place to be is at the front of the bunch. For Brad to do 500m at the front doesn't take much out of him. It was sensible thing to do and the safe thing to do.
"If he was at home training for the mountains this Saturday he'd be doing a harder effort than that, that's for sure. He'll recover and it won't affect him."
Cavendish eventually finished fifth behind Andre Greipel who claimed his second stage win in a row. Nonetheless, Brailsford described the Team Sky ride as ‘a super performance'. This followed some suggestion of discontent among Wiggins' helpers yesterday.
"We had a good chat this morning as a group and we really want to pull together as a group and say let's commit to this with a bit more intent," said Brailsford. "Sometimes you think you can just get through it and hover but that can make you a bit lethargic.
"If everybody's got a bit more responsibility and a bit of a job, there's a bit more intent and purpose and that's what we demonstrated today."
Brailsford praised Cavendish's "guts and determination to get back up and put himself in the mix" after yesterday's crash.
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
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Injury report: Tour stage four
Garmin-Sharp adjust Tour de France plans after injury problems
Sky down to eight after Siutsou crash
Kittel recovering from illness
Explaining the three kilometre rule
Sky's embarrassment of riches
Rogers back on form and backing Wiggins in the Tour
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Liquigas coach tips Sagan for future Grand Tour win
Cancellara's win lifts morale in RadioShack team
Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
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