TdF 2011 - Stage 21 - Victory #5 and Overall Winner of Green Jersey

What a day - a tremendous lead out by the HTC Highroad train on the Champs Elysees, provided Mark Cavendish with the perfect opportunity to win his 5th stage of this year's TdF, the overall Green Jersey points classification, his 3rd win on the trot in Paris and his 20th Stage win in his career - and he did not disappoint - delivering a perfect sprint finish leaving his opponents in awe. It was a nice touch from previous teammate and sometime opponent, Andre Griepel, to applaud Mark immediately after the finish - Mark is simply unbeatable at the moment!

This is how some publications have marked his victory:

Cycling Weekly

Velo News

The Guardian

The Telegraph

For the record, here are the final standings in the overall points classification:
  • 1. Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad, with 334 points
  • 2. Joaquin Rojas Jose, Movistar Team, with 272 points
  • 3. Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, with 236 points
  • 4. Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team, with 208 points
  • 5. Thor Hushovd, Team Garmin-Cervélo, with 195 points.
Surely, Mark must be the favourite to win BBC Sports Personality of the year now...


TdF 2011 - Stage 20

Mark rode a steady ITT today in Grenoble to finish 156th (1:04:08), 8:35 down on stage winner, and HTC Highroad team mate, Tony Martin.

All eyes are on him tomorrow as he is positioned to be the first British rider since Robert Millar to win one of the classifications - Millar won King of the Mountains back in 1984. Mark is likely to attack the intermediate sprint and is looking to win on the Champs Elysees for the third year running - and an incredible 20th stage win in four TdFs... Watch this space!

Oh... and Cadel Evans has won the TdF following a "tour de force" around the 26 mile course today, turning a 57 second deficit on Andy Schelck to an unassailable 1:34 lead. Maybe at 34, this was his last big chance to win the event he has finished second twice in (2007 and 2008), and as it was, he has left Andy Schleck win a "hattrick" of second places (2009, 2010 and 2011), albeit Andy, at 26, has plenty more chances to come back and win. Velo News have a well written piece on Cadel Evans and the BMC Team's tactics at the Tour here.


TdF 2011 - Stage 19

Yet another day of Grupetto madness today as Mark (along with 81 other riders) finished outside the time limit for the second day - resulting in another loss of 20 points, the only consolation being that 2nd placed Joaquin Rojas Jose was also outside the time limit. Today's stage pitted the riders on the legendary climb of the Alpe-d'Huez and it clearly proved a struggle for over half the field - as was Stage 18... Whether this is down to the pace at the front end of the field, or the Grupetto organsing themselves to save their legs, who knows... Mark was interviewed by ITV4 after the stage: "It's a real relief, it's as if the Tour's over." You can watch the interview by Ned Boulting here.

As things currently stand the top 5 in the points classification are:

  • 1. Mark Cavendish, HTC-Highroad - 280 points
  • 2. Joaquin Rojas Jose, Movistar Team - 265 points
  • 3. Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto - 230 points
  • 4. Thor Hushovd, Team Garmin-Cervelo - 195 points
  • 5. Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team - 191 points.
There are still a maximum of 85 points available (1st place = 20 points for the ITT tomorrow, then 20 points for the intermediate sprint and 45 points for the finish line sprint on Sunday), so Mark will have to work hard - on Sunday - to ensure overall victory...

Tomorrow's ITT sees Cadel Evans firmly installed as overall race favourite, even if he is downplaying his chances...


TdF 2011 - Stage 18

Drama for Mark today on the "Queen Stage" of this year's TdF - a series of brutal climbs from Pinerolo just across the Italian border to Galibier Serre Chevalier.

Mark finished in the autobus outside the time limit, some 35:40 behind stage winner, Andy Schleck - however, this exceeded 10% of Schleck's time and technically, this group would have been disqualified. Luckily, given the size of the group (88 riders) meant that the officials kept the riders in the race with a proviso - that 20 points were lost from the Points Classification (green jersey). This means that Mark's lead over Joaquin Rojas Jose has been cut down to 15 points. Mark had the following to say: "It’s disappointing. We thought we were way out of the time limit with quite a long way to go but it was a lot closer and had we known it might have made a difference - we just have to think about tomorrow now.”

There is one more day in the Alps for Mark to survive - tomorrow's stage - Modane to Alpe-d'Huez. This is followed by a 42.5km time trial on Saturday and then the parade into Paris and one more battle for sprint points and hopefully the green jersey...


Tdf 2011 - Stage 17

Mark finished safely in the grupetto in 166th place out of 169, 14:15 down on stage winner, Edvard Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) - this was his second stage win on the TdF which would have pleased the multitude of Norwegian fans who have made a pilgrimage to France this year.

Mark picked up one point for 15th place in the intermediate sprint to extend his lead in the points standings by... one point.

Mark was on suitably fine form on his Twitter page today: "Well, 1 less Alpine stage before Paris. Just 300 more mountainous kilometres! Then timetrial. Worried about doing 40km there WITHOUT Bernie!"

Whilst this blog is about Mark Cavendish, the GC battle is very exciting this year and Contador is starting to look very good - I would not be surprised if he wins the TdF again this year, although I am personally hoping that Cadel Evans wins... The next 3 days will provide the answer.


TdF 2011 - Stage 16

Mark finished 43rd on today's stage 6:48 down on winner Thor Hushovd, to leave him 124th overall, almost 2hrs exactly down on (still) the current leader, Thomas Voeckler. As ever, the battle for the green jersey is much more important - Mark still has a healthy lead:

  • 1. Mark Cavendish, HTC – Highroad, with 319 points
  • 2. Joaquin Rojas Jose, Movistar Team, with 285 points
  • 3. Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma – Lotto, with 250 points
  • 4. Thor Hushovd, Team Garmin – Cervelo, with 235 points
  • 5. André Greipel, Omega Pharma – Lotto, with 170 points
Indeed, HTC Highroad are fairly confident Mark can keep the green jersey all the way to Paris.

Mark had this to say on Twitter: "Wow, fast stage. Tried to stay with the front on final climb but just lost contact. Might shut up some people. Again, great ride by Thor".


TdF 2011 - Stage 15 - Victory #4!!!!

Mark was simply dominant in Montpellier today to win stage 15 of the 2011 TdF - his fourth victory of this year's race and his 19th overall which makes him joint 6th in the all time "most stage victories" according to my info (TdF Official Programme 2011).

Mark beat Tyler Farrar and Alessandro Petacchi which seems him extend his lead in the battle for the green jesrsey (319 points against Joaquin Rojas Jose with 282). His HTC Highroad team was superb today, as Mark was keen as ever to point out.

Mark's interview with ITV4 can be found here.

Richard Williams writes all about it over at the Guardian.

And finally... a look at how the Isle of Man has reported his latest victory, complete with picture from 2009, here.

TdF 2011 - Stage 14

Yet another day of pain and suffering for Mark Cavendish as he finished 26:45 down on the leader to leave him 136th in the GC, almost 2 hours down on Thomas Voeckler - who has defied expectation by keeping the yellow jersey through the Pyrenees... Indeed Lance Armstrong ponders whether victory is possible for Voeckler here.

Much more importantly, Mark has retained the green jersey going into Sunday's stage 15 - and a chance of another stage victory on a flat stage as we say goodbye to the Pyrenees and start to get ready for the Alps. The battle for the green jersey is finely balanced between Mark, Joaquin Rojas Jos and Philippe Gilbert so victory today is important (as ever).

Intersting"ish" artcile on Mark's Twitter exploits from the Isle of Man here.


TdF 2011 - Stage 13

Another day in the grupetto for Mark Cavendish on Stage 13 riding into Lourdes. Sounds like his team may need a miracle to survive into 2012 as team owner, Bob Stapleton, continues his search for a title sponsor as HTC has yet to commit beyond the end of this year. It is slightly incredulous that pro cycling's most "winningest" team since 2008 should be struggling for funding... Here's hoping that they pull through and keep Mark in the team (there are plenty of rumours linking him to Team Sky).

Bob Stapleton was interviewed on Radio 5 Live this evening and described Mark as "the best", that he has been with the team for 5 years and was hopeful that he would continue with them into 2012. No mention of sponsorship, but Bob made the point very well that it was a team which nurtured young talent and that should Mark leave that the team would continue down that route. He loved the team winning races (or stages) but that he was very hopeful that Mark would wear green into Paris this year. The presenters also talked to Bob about daily life on the Tour for the riders, i.e. the recovery process and so on. Bob stressed it was a team effort, not just about him, but all of the "support staff", i.e. management, mechanics etc plus the riders. It was a great interview and Bob came across as a very positive guy.


TdF 2011 - Stage 12

Mark finished safely in the grupetto today, some 33 minutes down on stage winner, Samuel Sanchez. Mark is now in 118th overall in the GC.

The action at the front of the field centred on the genuine GC contenders, with the feeling that Frank Schleck could be a contender for overall victory - a two pronged Schleck attack now beckons alongside brother Andy. Alberto Contador was also dropped by the main contenders today, he has looked so strong in 2009 and 2010 but perhaps he no longer looks invincible...


TdF 2011 - Stage 11 - Victory #3!

"it's the most beautiful jersey in the world" - so said Mark Cavendish after donning the green jersey today following his 3rd stage victory in this year's TdF. He has now won a staggering 18 stages since his first stage victory in 2008 - however, I am unconvinced that the UK realises just how much of a superstar Mark really is...

After defeat to arch-enemy (?) Andre Griepel yesterday, Mark delivered a perfect sprint to beat Griepel today - Velo News can tell you all about it much better than me here.

There is a video interview with Mark over at ITV4 here.

Also, a really good interview with Jens Voigt, again at ITV4 is here

ITV4 also mentioned the Jens Voigt soundboard - head over here for some Jens fun.


From the archives...

An interview from The Observer - 23 November 2008:

Tdf 2011 - Stage 10

Mark suffered a rare defeat today at the hands of former teammate Andre Griepel. Mark looked all set for his third stage win, however, the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider outsprinted Cav to the line. Mark was magnaminous in his interview on ITV4 after today's stage and his tweet regarding the defeat was tagged "#hats off" (to Gripel).

However, Mark has closed the gap on the battle for the green jersey, he is in 3rd place with 197 points, 29 points behind current leader, Philippe Gilbert.

Finally, Johnny Hoogerland gives his account of today's stage following Sunday's "incident" here. I really hope he makes Paris!


TdF 2011 - Stage 9

This weekend has been quiet from a Mark Cavendish perspective, however, the race has been fast and furious at the front end, coupled with a number of crashes involving many riders, has seen Le Tour stay in the headlines. Thomas Voeckler has now taken yellow after a 5 man breakaway (which later became only three riders after a press car clipped Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland into touch) succeeded and leads the main GC favourites by two and a half minutes.

For the record, Mark finished over 21 minutes behind the stage winner, Luis-Leon Sanchez, and is now 131st in the GC, albeit his position in the GC is somewhat irrelevant.

The TdF takes a well earned rest tomorrow, before regrouping on Tuesday for another hilly day.

Somewhat inevitably, tomorrow will now doubt feature alot of posturing from the teams affected by today's events. Dave Brailsford of Team Sky provided "no comment" to ITV4 today following the Press Car/Flecha/Hoogerland incident. Will there be "no comment" tomorrow?

TdF 2011 - Stage 8

Nothing to report today, Mark finished safely and within the time limit, in 170th place in the "Grupetto". For what it's worth, he is now 113th overall. Mark described the day as "proper hard".


TdF 2011 - Stage 7 - Victory #2!

A great day for Mark, and for once, I was able to witness it live, albeit on ITV4 online - not the greatest picture quality, but alot better than nothing! The HTC Highroad team completely dominated the run in to the finish line and Mark simply dominated the sprint ahead of Petacchi and Griepel. You can read more here, but what I admire about Mark is his recognition of his team - there does not appear to be much arrogance about the man.

As great a day this was for Mark, this was equally an awful day for Bradley Wiggins, forced to retire from the race with a broken collarbone, 38km from the end of the stage. We will never know now if Bradley would have made the podium this year, but he was in great shape and looking a lot better than last year, where he could muster "only" 24th place in the GC.


TdF 2011 - Stage 6

Today was not a Mark Cavendish day, the stage not favouring Mark's attributes. Tomorrow's stage (Le Mans - Chateauroux) could be a good day - indeed his first stage win at the TdF came back here in 2008... Here is a pic from the archives...

For what it's worth, Marki finished 101st today, 1:44 down on the stage winner, Edvald Boasson-Hagen (the first stage win at the TdF fof Team Sky...). Mark now places 80th in the GC, but more importantly, 5th place in the battle for the green jersey.

Finally, in yesterday's post, I inadvertently failed to mention Gary Imlach's role on ITV4's TdF coverage to which I apologise. In fact, Gary has written one of my favourite ever football books, the rather poignant "My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes" which can be found here:



TdF 2011 - Stage 5 - Victory!

I currently watch the highlights of the Tour each day on ITV4 - I ensure that I don't know the day's results when I finally sit down in front of the TV - more often than not on V+ so I have the advantage of skipping the adverts and sometimes the non-action skits, eg Ned Boulting wandering around a castle! That said, Ned, Chris Boardman plus Phil and Paul in the commentary box provide excellent analysis and commentary respectively.

Then again, I love listening to Sean Kelly on Eurosport - actually listening to him and his at times almost impenetrable Waterford accent... there is nothing more soothing! I wonder when I will make the switch to Eurosport...

Anyway, on to today... and Mark won! Cycling Weekly can provide a much better account than I can - read it all about it over there, especially the post stage press conference:


If you are still with me, here is another shot from today.


TdF 2011 - Stage 4

A tough day in the saddle today for Mark saw him finish over 4 minutes behind the stage winner, Cadel Evans, which leaves Mark in 94th place in the GC, 4:22 down on Thor Hushovd, who has managed to stay in yellow. No reaction from Mark on his Twitter page to date.

The tough climb, officially 2km from the end, but looked further out, having watched the TV highlights, meant that it was unlikely Mark was going to feature today, hopefully he is saving himself for the forthcoming flat stages!


TdF 2011 - Stage 3

Mark finished 5th today after being crowded out of a sprint finish at the last corner, firmly laying the blame at Frenchman Romain Feillu:


Things got worse for Mark, when his battle with Thor Hushovd for some intermediate sprint points resulted in both riders being disqualified from the results, Mark losing 10 points leaving him languishing in 9th place in the battle for the green jersey.


The TdF and Twitter...

The Guardian has provided a useful collection of all the teams' and riders' Twitter accounts:


Alongide Mark's account, Cadel Evans is always worth a read.

TdF 2011 - Stage 2

Mark Cavendish has moved up to 18th overall (+ 5s) as his HTC Highroad team finished in 5th place (+5s) on the TTT at Les Essarts today (3 July). In Mark's own words via Twitter:

"Aww bollocks. Guess luck's not on our side just yet. Eisel crashed in first 500m of TTT. We rode with 8 riders & finished just 5 seconds down".

TdF 2011 - Stage 1

Mark was unable to contend for the yellow jersey, having been involved in a pile up roughly 1.8km from the end of the stage, however, race officials adjudged that those riders be given the same time as the main pack ahead of them (+ 6 seconds from the stage winner Phillipe Gilbert), therefore, Mark is placed 69th in the GC at the end of the first day. Further information on the "3km rule" can be found over at Velo News. More importantly, Mark is 24th in the battle for the green jersey, finishing too far back to feature at the end of the stage, and just picking up five points at the intermediate line.