Mark Cavendish sprinted as hard for his 16th place in Barcelona as he had to win in Brignoles and La Grande-Motte and get third place in Perpignan.

Had he finished two places worse off, in 18th, he’d have seen the green jersey switch to the shoulders of the stage winner Thor Hushovd.

It had been a superb start to the campaign for Cavendish, with two victories in two days combined with disastrous finishes for the likes of Tom Boonen, Daniele Bennati and defending champion Oscar Freire.

But Hushovd has been consistent and now, trailing Cavendish by a single point, it’s clear that the race for the green jersey is distilling into a fight between those two. Cavendish has 106 points to Hushovd’s 105 as the race goes into the Pyrenees.

Gerald Ciolek, Cavendish’s former team-mate, is third, but a distant 40 points behind him.

Oscar Freire’s second place in Barcelona hoists him into seventh place, but he has just 47 points. It’s still a long, long way back. Tom Boonen and Daniele Bennati are, surely, out of it completely.


With three days in the mountains to come from Friday to Sunday, you’d have to think the fight for the green jersey would go onto the back burner, but Cavendish will still have to be careful.

Friday’s stage from Barcelona to Andorra has three intermediate sprints, each offering six, four and two points to the first three over the line.

But the first sprint comes after 105km, hot on the heels of a tricky third-category climb. Cavendish will hope a break (not containing Hushovd) has gone clear. The other two sprints come after the first-category Col de Serra-Seca, so it’s likely neither contender will be there to contest the points.

On Saturday the first sprint is not until after the first-category Port d’Envalira, which should mean it’s not a danger for Cavendish. Having said that, Hushovd has escaped on mountain stages before, in the Dauphiné Libéré and in the Tour.

Sunday’s stage sees the first sprint come after 41 kilometres of the stage, on the approach to the Col d’Aspin. That could be tricky if the bunch stays together.

Of course the first requirement for any rider who wants to win the green jersey is to reach Paris, so Cavendish need not panic in the Pyrenees. If he loses the jersey because Hushovd has been in position to contest an intermediate sprint when he has not, so be it.

The battle resumes properly on Tuesday, when the stage from Limoges to Issoudun takes place without race radios. The green jersey competition is not going to be straightforward, that’s for sure.

You wonder, though, how crucial that 16th place for Cavendish in Barcelona may begin to look come the final week of the Tour.


How they compare after stage six to Barcelona

1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-HTC 106pts

2. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cérvelo 105pts

3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram 66pts

4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream 54pts

7. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 47pts

9. Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 39pts

62. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 5pts

0pts Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas


Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.


Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs

Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage

Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second

Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage

Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador

Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint

Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial


Tour de France 2009 News Index>>

Wiggins looking ahead to Friday’s mountain stage

Analysis: Why Contador’s chances rose when Armstrong missed yellow

Delgado criticises Astana for Armstrong manoeuvre

Armstrong: Gaining time on Contador was not the objective

Stage three analysis: Why the bunch split and who gained the most

The Feed Zone: Monday, July 6

Analysis: Why Columbia must expect to do the bulk of the chasing


David Zabriskie’s time trial bike

Mark Cavendish on the Tour’s team time trial

David Brailsford interview

Mark Cavendish on the Tour

Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances


Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones

Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson

Team presentation by Andy Jones

Team presentation by Graham Watson


Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France


Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules

Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France

Tour de France anti-doping measures explained

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles


Follow the Tour on Cycling Weekly’s Twitter feed


  • J Mitchell

    A good result for Cavendish. Maybe now Columbia won’t have to do it all themselves at the front of the peleton.