Tour de France 2009 stage 19 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Mark Cavendish took his fifth stage win today making him the most successful British Tour de France rider in history.



The young Manxman battled over the second cat climb of the Col de l’Escrinet on stage 19 to stay in contention and then take his ninth Tour stage win in just three years as a professional cyclist. The tally takes him past Barry Hoban’s record of eight, and sees him rapidly homing in on the number of victories achieved by the best sprinters of previous generations.

The unexpected win also sets up the possibility of Cavendish making it six stage wins on the Champs Elysees on Sunday. A feat not achieved since Freddy Maertens won eight stages in the 1976 Tour. Maertens won five stages in 1981, but since then no sprinter has won more than four in a single race.

Should Cavendish win on Sunday and take a sixth stage, he will be confirmed as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, at the tender age of 24.

Today’s win was his hardest yet. With a second cat climb topping out at 16km to go, few would have predicted a bunch sprint this far in to the race. In fact, it wasn’t a bunch sprint as the leading group had no more than 30-40 riders in it. Crucially all the sprinters were in it, except for Tyler Farrar (Garmin), as they positioned themselves well on the Col de l’Escrinet.

Both Cervelo and Rabobank forced the pace on the 14km climb. The gradient averaged just 4.1 per cent but both teams obviously thought their sprinters could survive better than Cavendish.

Before the climb, the Brit had told his team mates to stay with him in order to help him chase back on should he need to, but every time the camera flicked back to him he looked as comfortable as anyone did in the long, lined-out bunch. Behind him riders were getting dropped, but riding in the top 20 in the shelter of his team mates, Cavendish was never in trouble and made it over the top with all the leaders.

With a descent all the way to the finish, Columbia then faced problem number two. Only George Hincapie, Maxine Monfort and Tony Martin were still there. The three would have to chase down Laurent Lefevre and Alessandro Ballan, who had a 13 second lead over the top of the climb, ride at a high enough pace to keep the bunch together, and then lead out the sprint.

Lefevre and Ballan were caught with just under 2km to go, and with 1km to go Cavendish only had Martin in front of him. Somehow the German kept the pace high enough to foil any counter attacks, although the tight, twisty final run-in would have also helped. He also had to do Mark Renshaw’s job and get Cavendish up to speed for the sprint.

Cavendish waited and waited, until he could wait no longer. Eventually he had to go, but with a slight rise to the finish he had his work cut out to hold off Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) in a long, drawn-out sprint. But the Norwegian took a while to get up to speed. He was slowly closing in on Cavendish by the time he hit the line but was never going to close the gap and was perhaps left ruing his decision to go on a lone break through the mountains two days before.

The win saw Cavendish claw back five points on Hushovd in the green jersey competition. There’s an intermediate sprint 48km in to tomorrow’s stage, but in reality, with a 25 point cushion the Norwegian can only lose green if he fails to contest Sunday’s sprint and Cavendish wins or comes second or third.

Wiggins loses crucial seconds to Armstrong

Once again, Britain’s Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) was unfortunately caught behind a small split in the leading group as he approached the line. Incredibly, Lance Armstrong was once again in the right place at the right time and put four seconds in to the Brit and every other rider in the top ten barring Christophe Le Mevel (Francaise des Jeux).

Armstrong finished in 12th spot on the same time as Cavendish, while Wiggins was in 14th spot, four seconds down. The result now means Wiggins is 15 seconds down on the American who sits in third place on general classification. Wiggins now needs to gain 16 seconds on Armstrong by the top of Mont Ventoux if he is to make history and become the first Briton to finish in the top three of the Tour de France.

Although there was clear daylight between Armstrong and Serguei Ivanov, who finished in 13th, there were also gaps behind Wiggins, although every other rider was given the same time as the Brit. When the same thing happened on stage 10 the race jury later changed their mind and nullified the time gap. Wiggins will be hoping for more of the same.

Le Mevel benefitted from being the right side of the four second split, swapping places with Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) from 10th to ninth.

Results

Stage 19: Bourgoin-Jallieu – Aubenas, 178km

1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-HTC


2. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo

3. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram

4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto

5. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank

6. Jerome Pineau (Fra) Quick Step

7. Fumiyuki Beppu (Jap) Skil-Shimano

8. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Ag2r

9. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux

10. Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin-Slipstream all at same time.

Other

12. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at same time

14. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 4secs

15. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 4secs

24. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 4secs

Overall classification after stage 19

1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana in 77-06-18


2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 4-11

3. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 5-21

4. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 5-36

5. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 5-38

6. Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 5-59

7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 7-15

8. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 10-08

9. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at 12-37

10. Mikel Astarloza (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 12-38

David Millar, Tour de France 2009, stage 19

David Millar played a role in the early break

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 19

Mark Cavendish takes his fifth win of the 2009 Tour

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 19

No green jersey, but plenty of smiles

 Contador, Tour de France 2009, stage 19

Alberto Contador is still safely in the race lead ahead of tomorrow’s big showdown on Mont Ventoux

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS

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

STAGE REPORTS



Stage 19: Five star Cavendish wins Tour stage in to Aubenas



Stage 18: Contador tightens grip on the maillot jaune



Stage 17: Schleck brothers overhaul Wiggins as Frank wins the stage



Stage 16: Astarloza snatches Alps stage win as contenders wind up the pace



Stage 15: Contador wins in Verbier as Tour explodes into life



Stage 14: Ivanov wins as Nocentini clings onto yellow


Stage 13: Haussler braves rain for victory in Colmar




Stage 12: Sorensen wins in Vittel as Cavendish goes for green



Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record



Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win



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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EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS



Mont Ventoux preview



Garmin-Slipstream’s HQ before the Tour



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

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS



Stage 19 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 18 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 17 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 16 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 15 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 14 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 13 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson



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 GUIDE

Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France

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Tour de France 2009: Who will win?

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

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  • Lashan

    It’s a shame that there is no other sprinter that could beat CAV once he gets the lead. Would like to see Thor or Oscar winning for a change.