Brit Mark Cavendish succeeded today in winning a Tour de France in sprinters' paradise, Bordeaux. The city has seen some of cycling's biggest names win along its Garonne river and it felt almost natural that Cavendish got his turn given his run of success with 14 wins in three years at the race.
His difficulty, though, came with not having his final lead-out man, Australian Mark Renshaw. The Tour de France tagged Renshaw a 'bad boy' and sent him home last week for head butting a rival team member during his lead out.
"People forget, that is how he started his career and won a lot of races," HTC-Columbia team manager, Bob Stapleton explained. "He has the native ability to follow wheels and pick them. He jumped on Hushovd's wheel, then Petacchi's..."
Great Britain's Sky came through and indirectly gave Cavendish his final push. They worked to place Edvald Boasson Hagen, which was also convenient for Cavendish.
"It was good, the last Ks when Sky came up. I spoke a little with [Juan Antonio] Flecha when he was coming up in the last three kilometres. I was quite easy on his wheel and got Mark to 500 metres to go, on Eddy's wheel," said Bernhard Eisel, Cavendish's final lead out man today.
"We were sure that missing two riders like Adam Hansen [abandoned after crash in stage 1] and Mark Renshaw, we would have to rely on someone else."
Sky's Boasson Hagen finished sixth. Julian Dean (Garmin-Transitions) pushed Cavendish closest to the line, finishing second, and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) took third and re-claimed the green sprinters jersey.
"Sky had a good lead out going today and gave it their best shot," said Cavendish.
Cavendish had been rumoured to join Sky for this year and for next year, but he has a contract option that takes him through 2011 with HTC. In fact, he has a strong train dedicated to him at the American team and dedicated today's win to one of the missing engines.
"I have missed him [Renshaw] in the Pyrenees, someone suffering more than me! I missed having a laugh with him in the room at night," he said.
"That one today was for him."
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Could a fifth stage win in Paris be enough to give Cavendish green?
Contador makes small steps towards third Tour de France win
Sastre: "Cycling is turning into a sport for spoilt brats
Schleck behind after Tourmalet duel but refuses to give up
Hesjedal leaps up classification with Tour's Tourmalet ride
Sky pushes ahead regardless of Wiggins placing
Armstrong has his last go in the Tour
Tour's points leader Petacchi investigated for doping
Contador issues video apology to Schleck
Millar searches horizon for Eiffel Tower
Schleck-Contador friendship turns sour after chain problem
Wiggins at 2010 Tour: "I haven't got it"
Basso wins Tour's acceptance; podium spot next goal
Contador versus Schleck: A game of seconds
Can Cav win without Renshaw?
Hesjedal pushing his way to the Tour's top
Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish's win
Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour
Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?
Cavendish in a 'must win' situation for Tour's green jersey
Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut
Roche alongside Tour's top men ahead of Pyrenees
Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?
Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage 17: Schleck wins on the Tourmalet but cannot shake off Contador
Rest day review (July 21)
Stage 16: Fedrigo takes tough Pyrenean stage
Stage 15: Victorious Voeckler continues fine Franch Tour as Contador takes yellow jersey
Stage 14: Riblon hangs on in Pyrenees to give France fourth stage win
Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban
Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks
Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour
Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race
Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day
Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head
Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour's white
Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up
Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour
Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims
Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC
Stage three live coverage: As it happened
Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa
Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Stage 17 photo gallery
Stage 16 photo gallery
Stage 15 photo gallery
Stage 14 photo gallery
Stage 13 photo gallery
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Tour 2010 wallpaper
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Videos
Stage 17 video highlights
Stage 16 video highlights
Stage 15 video highlights
Stage 14 video highlights
Stage 13 video highlights
Stage 12 video highlights
Stage 11 video highlights
Stage 10 video highlights
Stage nine video highlights
Stage eight video highlights
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Stage five video highlights
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Prologue video highlights
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Pictures
Tour team presentation, Rotterdam
Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special
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