Mark Cavendish made it a hat-trick of wins in Châteauroux, blasting past his sprint rivals once more to claim his career 32nd stage win in the Tour de France, and his second in this year’s race.
Victory in stage six’s dead-straight drag strip finish demonstrated that the momentum once lost in his career has now returned with a vengance.
With two stage wins in three days, the rider whose form was so cold that he was virtually frozen out, is now piping hot again.
This time there were few tears, just jubilation as he again hugged his Deceuninck QuickStep teammates beyond the finish line.
But not everyone in the peloton was celebrating and there were some disgruntled gestures in Cavendish’s direction from sprint rivals, Jasper Philipsen and Nacer Bouhanni, after there was some contact in the final 150 metres as the British rider moved to the centre of the road.
The stage was illuminated by a two man breakaway, led by reigning Olympic road race champion, Greg Van Avermaet, the day’s main animator.
After a spate of early attacks were nullified, the Belgian was joined in his lone effort by Caleb Ewan’s leadout man, Roger Kluge.
With Ewan out of the Tour after crashing in the sprint finish to stage three, his German team mate had been given his head and he and Van Avermaet rode determinedly across the flatlands of the Loir-et-Cher, until their inevitable capture by the speeding peloton, with just two kilometres to go.—AP