Mark Cavendish’s green jersey quest became more difficult after Tour de France’s mountainous leg to the Col du Galibier today. HTC-Highroad’s British sprinter finished in a group outside the time limit and lost 20 points.

“It’s disappointing,” said Cavendish said. “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.”

The race jury will allow the 88-man group to continue, but penalised each rider 20 points. Cavendish now only leads by a slim 15-point margin to Spaniard José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar), who was in a group 4-23 minutes ahead.

The race jury calculates the time limit from the winner’s time, the average speed and the difficulty of the stage. Today, the time limit was nine per cent of Andy Schleck’s winning time of 6 hours 7-56 minutes, averaging 32.656km/h – or 33-07 minutes.

Cavendish’s group finished 35-40 minutes behind Schleck and 2-33 minutes outside the time limit. The jury referred to article 22, which allows for modified time limits if more than 20 per cent of the day’s starting riders are outside the time limit. However, each rider in the group loses the same number of points awarded to the winner. Schleck received 20 points for his win.

Australia’s Richie Porte finished slightly ahead of Cavendish’s group, but was also outside the limit. He too is able to continue.

HTC had eight of its riders in the 88-man group, only Peter Velits was ahead. The group also included sprinter André Greipel and Philippe Gilbert, who is third in the points classification.

The Tour de France finishes Sunday in Paris, where Cavendish won the last two years. He is now in a position where he needs to win to help ensure the jersey remains on his shoulders.

Points classification

1 Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad 300

2 José Joaquín Rojas (Spa) Movistar 285

3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto 230

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  • Mark Jones

    This is ridiculous considering half of the peloton were outside the time limit. The organisers need to make more allowances for such difficult stages. If Rojas wins the green jersey because of a Cav two deductions then the organisers really have to think again about what the green jersey is about.

  • katie

    Mick W

    Do you not think the whole idea was pointless, excuse the pun, the official mind does not work. It was simply the fact that having only 100 riders going into the next stage and the fear that some of these would not make the time cut and so lessen the spectacle in Paris that drove them on.
    It would be really thrilling to watch the skinny climbers rolling up the Champs and then seeing a climbers sprint train in action, especially watching the timid top of the current leaderboard playing after you in the gallop for the line.
    One thing would be sure Tommy would win the tour !

    I find it farcsical that they dock all the riders points a situation that to coin a phrase must leave some with ” Negative Equity “

  • Mick W

    9% ! ….How do they arrive at these figures. A bit harsh considering the severity of this stage, and it seems alot of people were calculating on a more generous allowance. A 10% allowance would have seen them escape penalty. I often wonder how these Officials` minds work.