Cavendish surprises with Tour stage win and press conference

Mark Cavendish on podium, Tour de France 2011, stage five

Mark Cavendish sprinted to win number 16 in the Tour de France today in Cap Fréhel. It was a surprise victory for some, who thought he'd fail on the windy, twisty and undulating finish to hold off the likes of Philippe Gilbert.

The surprises didn't stop there. Cavendish continued his strong performance in a post-stage press conference.

Cavendish answered the usual questions about his win and about how his HTC-Highroad team-mates helped. He also gave some colourful responses to other questions that dug deeper. The following is a transcript...

Q: Where does this win rank?

Mark Cavendish: "It was on the scale of my 2009 stage win [in Aubenas] really, but it was more difficult, because it was unexpected. The stage was hard, the finish was really hard, the uphill. That finish was steep and I went into the red. I was lucky to have my guys, six guys to keep me out of the wind all day. I had Gossy and Tony Martin on that little uphill.

"I put the deep section wheel in; I didn't expect it to be that hard. A technical downhill, but the wind made it harder and slowed it down. At 2K to go, André Greipel turned into my left, there was no way of fending off a big guy. I did drop off. In hindsight that was a good thing it gave me a run up to the finish.

"I thought I was just going to get some points today to stay up for the green jersey. Geraint Thomas with about 200 metres to go. I jumped, got along side Gilbert, that surprised me, and I just kept it going. I was surprised. I'm really happy because it was a difficult one.

"Normally, I like to win by a little margin to save my energy. It took a lot out of me today. It is going to take a couple of days to recover."

Q: You talked about your doubters recently. Who are they and what do you say to them now with this win?

MC: "They know who they are anyway. No [laughs] I don't have to name names. It will happen again, in a stage of the Tour, in the same position. That's a part of being here. You guys have to write something.

"It's always sweet, we try to win every time we are on the bike, but it is always sweet to try to silence the ignoramuses."

Q: You had an incident in the intermediate sprint [with José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step)]. Did it motivate you and are you surprised the jury didn't rule against them? (It later did. - ed.)

MC: "It does not motivate me any more for the finish. I don't know the situation with the intermediate sprint. All I ask for is consistency; otherwise it just becomes a personal thing against me."

Q: Rojas said that you hit him with one kilometre to go today. What do you have to say about it?

MC: "Nothing.

"Does he [Rojas] want to talk about the intermediates? I don't remember hitting no one. I got hit, Greipel hit me."

"If he wants to look back at the intermediate sprint, he can tell me if he sprinted straight. I don't know."

"Hang on! He said [Alessandro] Petacchi hit him. Do you want to start shit or do you want to get your story straight before you start saying that? Where is he? Put that guy back on!

"You are going to get sued for libel if you come up with stuff like that. You are going to get done for libel. You said Petacchi, you said Petacchi."

Journalist: "I said Rojas."

MC: "Yeah. Rojas said, Petacchi."

Journalist: "I am just asking you."

MC: "Do you want me to sue you for libel or him to sue you for libel, or what? Get your story straight before do it. You are going to start bad shit with that. You...."

[A journalist asks a question, asking him to send a personal message to his friends on the Isle of Man.]

Q: Two questions: What do you think about Gilbert's performance today? Secondly, on France 2 TV, you mentioned most of your problems are in here, and you pointed to your head. What are the problems you are talking about?

MC: "If I go into that we wouldn't get out of here tonight [Laughs]. But it's what makes me tick. I am lucky I have some good people around me who keep me sane.

"Gilbert was strong. I didn't think I was going to beat him. Not just today, but the whole year. He's pretty inspiring, I have massive respect for that guy.

"Wait. Just a final thing. I got the news yesterday that my dog Amber died. It's not normal, but I want to dedicate this win to Amber, she was like my little baby. That made me pretty sad. I hope Melissa [his ex-girlfriend - ed.], back on the Isle of Man, is doing okay."

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