Mark Cavendish spoiled the Bastille Day celebrations for the French today, storming Issoudun with an imperious sprinting performance to complete his hat-trick of stage wins in this year’s Tour de France.
Quite clearly the finest sprinter in the peloton, the Manxman took off his green sunglasses as he crossed the line a good two bike lengths ahead of Thor Hushovd, declaring his intention to recapture the green jersey.
Cavendish’s Columbia lead-out train was once again faultless, delivering the Manxman to the line with pin-point precision.
Despite attempts from Garmin and Quick Step to infiltrate the train, Cavendish left Mark Renshaw’s wheel early leaving Hushovd and Tyler Farrar gasping in his wake.
Although Cavendish comfortably had the better of Hushovd in the uphill drag to the line, he could only drag back five points meaning that he will now have to scrap for the immediate sprints if he is to peg back the Norwegian in the points competition.
“I’ve got another two, maybe even four stages I’ve got lined up that I’d like to win including on the Champs Elysées,” said Cavendish after his win in Issoudun, just 20km from the site of his first ever Tour win in Châteauroux in 2008.
“It was a little bit tricky,” said Hushovd after the stage. “I braked a bit because of the crash and lost the wheel from Cavendish and missed the victory. The next two days we get a hard final and I know that I can beat him, I did it already”.
The other main story of the day, to add to Cavendish’s prodigious sprinting performance, was the prohibition of race radios for today’s stage.
Despite the premonition that this would enliven the racing, freeing the riders from the shackles of their domineering team managers, it had in fact the opposite effect.
Rumours circulated that the peloton was exerting an unofficial go-slow in protest against the measure and it certainly seemed that way, as the main field appeared to be soft-pedalling and allowing the break to dangle at one and a half minutes.
A group of four riders escaped early on the day, comprised of three French riders and a Russian: Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux), Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Thierry Hupond (Skil Shimano) and Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), attempting to snatch a coveted French win on le quatorze Juillet.
This being Bastille Day, Ignatiev was under the impression that this entitled him, a Russian, to contribute nothing to the predominantly French break.
The group gained no more than four minutes on the peloton, which despite rumours of a protest, was apparently anxious of allowing the break any more time without the benefit of race radios to tell them exactly what the four riders were up to.
Gradually the gap tumbled and the peloton successfully timed the capture, thanks to the time checks on the chalkboards, but if anything, the absence of radios made the bunch that bit more wary of allowing the break too much freedom.
It wasn’t just the French who missed out today, Levi Leipheimer and Bradley Wiggins were caught on the wrong side of a split in the final kilometres and slipped to fifth and seventh respectively.
Stage ten: Limoges-Issoudun, 194km
1. Mark Cavendish (Columbia)
2. Thor Hushovd (Cervélo)
3. Tyler Farrar (Garmin)
4. Leonardo Duque (Cofidis)
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d’Epargne)
6. Lloyd Mondory (Ag2R)
7. Kenny van Hummel (Skil Shimano)
8. William Bonnet (Bouygues Telecom)
9. Daniele Bennati (Liquigas)
10. Saïd Haddou (Bouygues Telecom)
Overall classification after stage ten
1. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2R) 39-11-04
2. Alberto Contador (Astana) at 0-06
3. Lance Armstrong (Astana) at 0-08
4. Andreas Kloden (Astana) at 0-54
5. Levi Leipheimer (Astana) at 0-54
6. Tony Martin (Columbia) at 1-00
7. Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) at 1-01
8. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) at 1-24
9. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) at 1-49
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) at 1-54
Thor Hushovd (Cervélo) 147 pts
Mark Cavendish (Columbia) 141 pts
King of the Mountains
Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Young riders’ classification
Tony Martin (Columbia)
That’s not what is meant by a lead-out train. The escape group were stopped in their tracks and weren’t chuffed
The bunch took it easy today, time enough for a chat about pylons
Mark Cavendish takes his third stage of the 2009 Tour, Hushovd looks away in disbelief
Race leader Rinaldo Nocentini chats to 2008 Tour winner Carlos Satsre (left)
Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire
stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out
Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance
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
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Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
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Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
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