Tour de France Stage 18: Mark Cavendish proves form a week ahead of the Olympics

Second win of 2012 Tour for world champion, Wiggins plays part in leadout in rehearsal for London next weekend

by Simon_MacMichael   July 20, 2012  

Tour de France 2012 poster

Mark Cavendish of Team Sky has taken his second stage win of the 2012 Tour de France, and the 22nd of his career, in Brive-la-Gaillarde this afternoon to prove he is in form ahead of the Olympic road race a week tomorrow. Maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins, perhaps with an eye on the duties he will be performing in London next weekend, led the peloton under the flamme rouge in pursuit of the last of the day's escapees as well as a couple of riders who had attacked from the bunch late on.

The latter included AG2R's Nico Roche, who seemed set to challenge fellow attacker Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank for the win, before Cavendish put in a massive burst of acceleration to jump across onto the Spaniard's wheel as they approached the closing 100 metres of the 215 kilometre stage from Blagnac. From that point, there was only one winner. The Manxman will be looking to add his third win of this year's Tour on Sunday on the Champs-Elysees, where he has never been beaten.

A third member of the five man team that will represent Great Britain in that Olympic road race next Saturday, Garmin-Sharp’s David Millar, was in a 16-man break that got away early on in the stage that featured one Category 3 and three Category 4 climbs.

Also in that group were two former Tour of Britain winners – Michael Albasini of Orica-GreenEdge and Edvald Boasson Hagen, both of whom won that race while with Cavendish’s former HTC Highroad team.

With those hills presenting an ideal opportunity for the Manxman to fine-tune his form following a race in which more often than not he has been playing a supporting role to Wiggins’ chase of the overall win, the escapees were kept on a tight leash.

The same, unfortunately, could not be said of a dog that ran into the road as the peloton rode by with a little under 100 kilometres to go. Ten riders were brought down in the subsequent crash, including Katusha’s Denis Menchov and BMC Racing’s Philippe Gilbert, although eaqrly reports the Belgian had a suspected fractured wrist thankfully turned out to be exaggerated.

Luckily for Team Sky, Wiggins and second-placed Chris Froome weren’t among the riders involved in that canine-induced chute, but it does highlight that for all the excitement building ahead of Sunday, the race isn’t over until the riders cross the finish line on the Champs-Elysees for the final time.

Heading over the last of the day’s climbs, crested immediately in front of the 10 kilometre to go banner, three men who had been in that earlier break were now out on their own at the front of the race.

First over was Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov, whose career appeared to be over 12 months ago when he crashed and broke a leg on the same stage that saw Vacansoleil-DCM’s Johnny Hoogerland end up in a barbed wire fence.

With the Kazakh as the trio headed into that final ten kilometres were Luca Paolini of Katusha, like Astana trying to rescue a stage win from the Tour, and Lotto-Belisol’s Adam Hansen.

Behind, Roche and Andreas Klöden of RadioShack Nissan were chasing hard having jumped off the front of the bunch, as did Sanchez.

With some tight bends in the finale, it was touch and go whether Roche and Sanchez, by now ahead on their own, would manage to hang on and contest the win, but Wiggins’ work in towing the peloton along set Cavendish up perfectly to sprint to a win that takes him level with André Darrigade’s Tour de France record for a sprinter, set in 1964.

Matt Goss of Orica GreenEdge and Liquigas-Cannondale’s Peter Sagan would also overhaul Roche and Sanchez to respectively finish second and third.

Tomorrow’s 53.5 kilometre individual time trial should see Wiggins and Froome further distance the opposition in the overall standings, ahead of a triumphant procession into Paris where Team Sky will look to finish off a memorable Tour de France with panache by setting Cavendish up for another win on cycling’s most famous finish line.

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Stage winner Mark Cavendish, Team Sky:

“It would have been easy for the team to just ride in to Paris now after the mountains

“But we spoke on the bus before the start and I stuck my hand up and said ‘please give me a chance’. They all committed to that and said we were going to make a sprint. I’m so happy, those guys who I’ve been riding with these last three weeks helped me out.

“We came here with the goal of winning the yellow jersey and we're first and second on GC.

“Spirits are high and to be part of a team that could go on to win the Tour de France is a massive honour.”

Dave Brailsford, Team Sky Team Principal:

“We were determined to repay Mark for everything he has done for the team over the last few weeks. I know Bradley and the guys were very motivated this morning to try and say thanks to him. When you lead Mark Cavendish out like that the result is never in doubt.

“Two wins from four sprints is a fantastic return. He’s demonstrated once again why he’s such an amazing rider and a genuine world champion.

“The one thing I’d like the team to be known and remembered for is the unity and teamwork we've shown. The guys work tirelessly for each other, they get on well and they showed again today that they all back each other, it doesn’t matter what the situation is.”


Sean Yates, Team Sky Sports Director:

“It just gets better and better. It worked out fantastic today. We set out to have a bunch sprint, but when the break went and Lotto and GreenEdge had someone in there we knew they wouldn’t chase. Eddy went across on the climb and it turned into a 16-man group.

“A lot of teams knew it was their final chance today. They chased down the break even though they had very little chance of taking the stage with no sprinters. It almost stayed away but when it didn’t we took up the challenge of delivering Cav like the boys talked about in the meeting this morning. It all worked out to perfection and Cav was really happy.

“Brad delivered him perfectly. He had to go early with the breakaway still up there. It worked in his favour as he got a gap and then there was no way of pegging him back once he’d opened up so early. On these long, super-fast sprints he is on another level to everyone else.”

Defending champion Cadel Evans, BMC Racing:

"I had a couple of days that were really important days that pretty much put me out of contention for the podium.

"I'll see if I can just salvage something in my Tour tomorrow. We'll find out when I get to the first time check. I'll give everything, but everything of 80 percent or everything of 70 percent isn't always enough for a Tour time trial."

BMC Racing's Philippe Gilbert about the crash caused by a dog today:

"He ran into the middle of the bunch and there was nothing we could do to avoid it. I was pretty upset at the people because I think it's very dangerous to leave such a big dog running into the bunch. It could have been really bad. In the end, I have bruises on my left shoulder and elbow but nothing broken, which is most important ahead of the Olympics. I was lucky."

Tour de France Stage 18 result  

1  CAVENDISH Mark         SKY PROCYCLING 04h 54' 12''
2  GOSS Matthew           ORICA GREENEDGE All st same time
3  SAGAN Peter            LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE
4  SANCHEZ Luis-Leon      RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM
5  ROCHE Nicolas          AG2R LA MONDIALE
6  FARRAR Tyler           GARMIN-SHARP
7  BOZIC Borut            ASTANA PRO TEAM
8  HINAULT Sébastien      AG2R LA MONDIALE
9  IMPEY Daryl            ORICA GREENEDGE
10 DUMOULIN Samuel        COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE
11 GREIPEL André          LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM
12 HAEDO Juan Jose        TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK
13 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald   SKY PROCYCLING
14 KLÖDEN Andréas         RADIOSHACK-NISSAN
15 DE KORT Koen           TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO
16 PAOLINI Luca           KATUSHA TEAM
17 SIMON Julien           SAUR-SOJASUN
18 BAK Lars               LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM
19 WIGGINS Bradley        SKY PROCYCLING
20 MARCATO Marco          VACANSOLEIL-DCM

Last man home on Stage 18  

153 LANGEVELD Sebastian   ORICA GREENEDGE 05h 06' 44''

General Classification after Stage 18  

1 WIGGINS Bradley         SKY PROCYCLING 83h 22' 18''
2 FROOME Christopher      SKY PROCYCLING  + 02' 05''
3 NIBALI Vincenzo         LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE  + 02' 41''
4 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen   LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM  + 05' 53''
5 VAN GARDEREN Tejay      BMC RACING TEAM  + 08' 30''
6 EVANS Cadel             BMC RACING TEAM  + 09' 57''
7 ZUBELDIA Haimar         RADIOSHACK-NISSAN  + 10' 11''
8 ROLLAND Pierre          TEAM EUROPCAR  + 10' 17''
9 BRAJKOVIC Janez         ASTANA PRO TEAM  + 11' 00''
10 PINOT Thibaut          FDJ-BIGMAT  + 11' 46''

Points classification after Stage 18  

1 SAGAN Peter             LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 386 pts
2 GREIPEL André           LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 264 pts
3 GOSS Matthew            ORICA GREENEDGE 238 pts
4 CAVENDISH Mark          SKY PROCYCLING 175 pts
5 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald    SKY PROCYCLING 146 pts

Mountains classification after Stage 18  

1 VOECKLER Thomas         TEAM EUROPCAR 134 pts
2 KESSIAKOFF Fredrik      ASTANA PRO TEAM 123 pts
3 SORENSEN Chris Anker    TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK 77 pts
4 ROLLAND Pierre          TEAM EUROPCAR 63 pts
5 VALVERDE Alejandro      MOVISTAR TEAM 51 pts

Young Riders' Classification after Stage 18  

1 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM 83h 30' 48''
2 PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT  + 03' 16''
3 KRUIJSWIJK Steven RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM  + 01h 00' 50''
4 IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI Gorka EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI  + 01h 14' 28''
5 TAARAMAE Rein COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE  + 01h 16' 16''

7 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Get in.... the Brit pack are on form and will smash oylmpics...well done Cav and Wiggo on the lead out.

jasonchatty31

chatty31's picture

posted by chatty31 [75 posts]
20th July 2012 - 14:37

2 Likes

Woohoo!

Just to make absolutely, positively sure that everyone knows who the strongest team is.

Result. Let's see if they can make it 3 stage wins in a row with Wiggo tomorrow then Cav again on Sunday.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3468 posts]
20th July 2012 - 14:46

4 Likes

Best stage finish in this years tour that. So close for the break, but it wasn't to be.

EBH is a legend - all day in the break, and then still leading out after 2 weeks of mountain duty.

And great to see Bradley leading out too, fantastic.

andyspaceman's picture

posted by andyspaceman [233 posts]
20th July 2012 - 15:01

2 Likes

sports Personality Of The Year is going to be a real tough one this year Thinking

posted by RoyTheBoy [5 posts]
20th July 2012 - 16:06

3 Likes

It shouldn't be that tough but if Mo Farah takes the 5,000m and 10,000m in the athletics at the Olympics then it would probably need Brad to take gold in the TT?

posted by ray silvester [1858 posts]
20th July 2012 - 16:08

2 Likes

EBH is a rocker for sure. If he moves from Sky next year he'll contend.

How about this for a shaker...Froome goes next to last in the TT and scorches the course while Wiggins hits a rough day and loses minutes to him. Froome has to wear the yellow jersey and there would be nothing he can do about it.

"because a goal without a plan is just a wish"

posted by bikeyourbest [23 posts]
20th July 2012 - 16:42

2 Likes

Watching the highlights I can't believe the gap Cav put into everyone else. Reckon the next 7 days is going to rock!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3468 posts]
20th July 2012 - 22:47

2 Likes