Three stages, one win, one second place and one third place – it’s been an incredible start for Team Sky at the Tour de France.
To say Cavendish’s win on stage two was a surprise would be disrespectful to one of the most successful Tour riders of the last few years, but with all the pre-race talk of slimming down and a lack of sprint train, expectations were lower than for the previous three years.
But Cavendish has always enjoyed proving people wrong.
His stage win in Tournai, the 21st of his career, came off the back of riding on his wits, jumping from wheel to wheel in a chaotic final few kilometres. His sprinting is not just about riding off the back of eight team mates. “How he got on to Greipel’s wheel there I’m not quite sure. I don’t think we’ll ever know that. But his ability to do it is uncanny,” said team Sky boss Dave Brailsford.
“Fair play to him. Tactically it is amazing how he can find himself in the right position time and time again. Then it was quite interesting. It was man against man.”
“He’s been saying Greipel’s going better than him. The answer was there for everybody to see.”
If Cavendish can keep winning (in the world champs jersey of course) before handing over to Wiggins and co. in the mountains, Sky could put together one of the most successful Tours since T-Mobile in 1997 when they won the green and yellow jersey’s with Erik Zabel and Jan Ullrich.
Sky, however, are playing down green. “It’s not something we’re going to chase and chase. It’s something that if it happens, it happens. I don’t think it’s something that we’re going to get too uptight about.”
After Monday’s stage to Tournai, Cavendish had moved up to second place in the green jersey competition, fifteen points behind Peter Sagan. Sky is playing that jersey down, but Cavendish has sprinted for the intermediate sprint points both days now, so the jersey he won last year is not something he’s just going to give away.
Is there anyone else in the team who can win stages or challenge for a jersey? Edvald Boasson Hagen obviously looks sharp after his third place in Seraing, while Chris Froome is the team’s Plan B should anything happen to Wiggins.
Froome was unfortunate to suffer an untimely puncture 15km from the finish in Seraing on Monday and lose over a minute to the leaders; we’ll see how well he’s really going when the race hits the mountains.
And then of course there’s the yellow helmets for the leading team. They’ll have to wear them again on Tuesday’s stage from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Rogers back on form and backing Wiggins in the Tour
Martin to continue in Tour despite fractured wrist
Liquigas coach tips Sagan for future Grand Tour win
Cancellara’s win lifts morale in RadioShack team
Hincapie makes history with 17th Tour start
Goss has eye on Tour’s green jersey
Hincapie’s lucky seventeen bike
Evans ready to fight for his Tour title
Tour de France 2012: Teams presented in Liege
Millar misses Tour presentation due to illness
Nibali plans mountain attack in Tour
Sky Tour de France recon: Photo special
Hesjedal ready to take on Tour
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour won’t knock Cavendish down
Brailsford: You’ve got to prioritise
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
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 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
Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage 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