After limiting Mark Cavendish’s support to just two riders for the last two flat sprint stages
in the 2012 Tour de France
, Team Sky put pretty much the whole team to the front for the run-in to today’s finish in Saint Quentin.

Cavendish ended up on the floor on yesterday’s run-in to Rouen but was in a fit enough state to contest today’s gallop.

But according to team principle Dave Brailsford, Sky’s move to the front in the stage’s closing miles was as much about protecting Bradley Wiggins from chaos in the bunch charge as offering Cavendish more support for the gallop.

“From Bradley’s point of view we’re getting closer to the mountains and -there’s today and tomorrow left-so we’re like ‘OK guys it’s time to commit to the front of this race’,” he said. “That’s what we did from about 30km out. We said we’re going to really try and ride hard at the front to protect Mark plus protect Bradley.”

As the finish approached, Wiggins himself took a pull on the front of the bunch. Brailsford dismissed any suggestion that this could be wasting energy ahead of the mountains.

“The key thing is we know the safest place to be is at the front of the bunch. For Brad to do 500m at the front doesn’t take much out of him. It was sensible thing to do and the safe thing to do.

“If he was at home training for the mountains this Saturday he’d be doing a harder effort than that, that’s for sure. He’ll recover and it won’t affect him.”

Cavendish eventually finished fifth behind Andre Greipel who claimed his second stage win in a row. Nonetheless, Brailsford described the Team Sky ride as ‘a super performance’. This followed some suggestion of discontent among Wiggins’ helpers yesterday.

“We had a good chat this morning as a group and we really want to pull together as a group and say let’s commit to this with a bit more intent,” said Brailsford. “Sometimes you think you can just get through it and hover but that can make you a bit lethargic.

“If everybody’s got a bit more responsibility and a bit of a job, there’s a bit more intent and purpose and that’s what we demonstrated today.”

Brailsford praised Cavendish’s “guts and determination to get back up and put himself in the mix” after yesterday’s crash.

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Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list



Tour 2012: Who will win?



Tour de France 2012 provisional start list



Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports



Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades



Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes



Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne



Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory



Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt



Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs



Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials



CW’s Tour de France podcasts



Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs



Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries



Stage five by Graham Watson



Stage four by Graham Watson



Stage three by Graham Watson



Stage two by Andy Jones



Stage two by Graham Watson



Stage one by Graham Watson



Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones



Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler



Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson



Tour de France 2012: Team presentation



Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage



Stage five live coverage



Stage four live coverage



Stage three live coverage



Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule

ITV4 live schedule

British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links



Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish



Brief history of the Tour de France



Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index



1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever

  • Geoff Waters, Durban, South Africa

    The other team managers on the TdeF must be over the moon at Sky’s dithering as to who its leader on the road is. You have the world champion and proven multistage winner whom you don’t fully support on the flat stages and a hopeful for overall victory who is unproven over a three week race whom you overprotect. Sky management exudes overconfidence. It could well result in Sky arriving in Paris wirh no yellow jersey, no green jersey and only one stage victory. Remember ANC-Halfords?