After stage 13 from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond we saw the old Mark Cavendish, not the the grumpy old man looking for answers, but the chirpy young pup buzzing about his team.
But this was no standard Cavendish mass sprint like the 24 victories that had gone before after some amazing riding by his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team that with the help of some wind and a couple other teams destroyed the peloton and ripped apart this year’s Tour, on what was meant to be a nothing transitional stage before we hit the heights of Mont Ventoux.
Going from early on they dislodged what looks like Cav’s main opposition in Marcel Kittel. The pace making was taken up by Belkin when GC second placed Valverde suffered a mechanical and was gapped, they powered on to make sure that gap though it got close was never closed. The Movistar rider was the big loser coming in nearly ten minutes behind the winner, finishing his podium ambitions.
But there was also another loser as Chris Froome also came in behind that front group, losing just under 70 seconds to what looks like his main rival in Contador along with Mollema. Again wind and some great team work saw Contador’s Saxo team attacked. A group formed with him surrounded by most of his team while Froome missed the jump as he was left looking for members of his. Froome couldn’t get any real help in trying to chase down the break as his team crumbled and he was left all on his tod crossing the line 69 seconds behind looking somewhat puzzled.
Luckily on that Saxo break Cavendish just managed to sprint over the gap to be the last man to join the breakaway, leaving only Peter Sagan between him and stage victory number 25. And, well, even with his poor form so far when he went past the wearer of the green jersey there was no come from behind win to deny the Manx Missile this time.
Number 25. Third on the all time list. First over all if you just count road race stages and not time trials. He may not be on it this time around but he’s still the best we’ve seen.