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Manxman overcomes late climbs and denies Boasson Hagen and Sagan the win in crash-marred sprint finish in Marseille

Photo: Sirotti

ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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JAKOB FUGLSANG

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MARK CAVENDISH

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SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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03.07.2013 @ 17:43 Posted by Malte Philbert Jessen

It took some time but today Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finally took his first stage win in this year's edition of the Tour de France as the fast Brit held off Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in the final dash to the line. A big crash near the line turned the finish into chaos but Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) escaped the carnage to successfully defend his leader's jersey.

 

It has been a frustrating start to the Tour de France for the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team. In stage one, Mark Cavendish was denied the opportunity to sprint for his first ever yellow jersey while the team was beaten by less than a second in yesterday's team time trial in Nice.

 

Today the luck turned around for the Belgian team as Mark Cavendish finally opened his win account in this year's race. Having returned to full strength after a bout of bronchitis, the Brit managed to overcome the numerous late climbs and in the final dash to the line, no one was any match to the fast Manxman.

 

However, the peloton had to dig deep to reel in a 4-man break with Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), Yukiya Arashiro and Kevin Reza (Europcar) and U23 world champion Alexey Lutsenko (Astana). With 20km to go, the quartet was still more than 2 minutes ahead of the peloton which was led by Svein Tuft and Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Jerome Pineau (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Johannes Fröhlinger (Argos-Shimano).

 

As the breakaway started to climb the uncategorized Col de la Gileste with 17km to go, Arashiro broke the harmony in the front group and made an acceleration but got nowhere. Behind, the peloton was furious and Ag2r put Sebastien Minard on the front to tire out the legs of the pure sprinters, thus making his teammate Samuel Dumoulin a more likely stage winner.

 

Andre Greipel (Lotto), Cavendish and Marcel Kittel (Argos) were all well-positioned near the front but the disaster struck for the latter German with 15km to go. A big crash near the front of the peloton derailed his sprint plans and also brought down riders like Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) who appeared to be worst off.

 

Argos switched to plan B which was to set John Degenkolb for the sprint and so they joined Ag2r on the front of the peloton. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) and Tom Dumoulin (Argos) both took some huge turns on the front while Rolland and Rogers got safely back into the peloton.

 

Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) was one of a number of sprinters to drop off on the climb but nonetheless, his team took over at the front, Tuft and Albasini both taking some huge turns as they neared the top of the climb. With 500m to go, FDJ took over as Arthur Vichot and Pierrick Fedrigo fought hard to position team leader Thibaut Pinot for the descent.

 

At the top of the climb, the gap was down to just 20 seconds and Sylvain Chavanel now hit the front with most of Omega Pharma-Quick Step team lined out behind him. Up ahead, Lutsenko accelerated on the descent, leaving De Gendt and Arashiro behind.

 

Omega Pharma-Quick Step kept the pace high on the run-in to the finish, Peter Velits, Tony Martin and Chavanel all taking huge turns on the front. They picked up De Gendt and Arashiro while the front duo fought hard to stay clear.

 

With 5km to go, Reza gave up and fell back into the peloton while Lutsenko survived a further 800m. With 4,2km, it was, however, all back together as the sprint trains now rallied for position.

 

Euskaltel and Vacansoleil both have brief stints on the front but with 2,2km to go Chavanel took over with his train behind him. However, the Belgian team appeared to have lost the battle when Adam Hansen and later Marcel Sieberg set up the world-famous Lotto-Belisol train and as they passed the flamme trouge, Greipel's team was in control.

 

Matteo Trentin made a fabulous acceleration with Gert Steegmans and Cavendish in his wheel and despite an attempt from Greipel's lead-out man Greg Henderson to gain control, it was Steegmans who gave Cavendish a perfect lead-out. No one was able to challenge the Manxman who beat Boasson Hagen and Sagan while Greipel had to settle for 4th.

 

A big crash took place at the finishing straight and riders rolled across the finish line one by one. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) appeared to be hurt and his GC ambitions could have taken a big blow as a consequence.

 

Simon Gerrans finished safely on the wheel of teammate Daryl Impey which allows him to take the yellow jersey into tomorrow's flat stage into Montpellier. On paper, it should be another sprint finish but the Mistral wind has the potential to blow the race to pieces.

 

6 riders attack from the gun

The long 228,5km stage to Marseille was held on a lumpy route with numerous categorized and uncategorized climbs along the way. Despite the difficult nature of the course, there was, however, no big desire to enter the day's early breakaway and when De Gendt made the first acceleration, he was allowed to go clear.

 

Arashiro, Reza, Lutsenko, Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) and Romain Sicard (Euskaltel) joined the strong Belgian in what was the day's move. De Gendt made a small attack near the top of the day's first climb at the 22km mark to pick up maximum points but the sextet was quickly back together, starting to build up an enormous gap.

 

Orica-GreenEdge starts to chase

The advantage reached 12.45 before Orica-GreenEdge of race leader Gerrans started to up the pace. Veteran Stuart O'Grady did much of the early pace-setting gradually bringing down the gap.

 

De Gendt also took the sole point on the day's second categorized climb and even held off Lutsenko in a close fight to also win the intermediate sprint. Behind, Lotto-Belisol gave Greipel a full lead-out and the strong German took the maximum points available for the peloton by beating Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Sagan and Cavendish.

 

More chasers

With 114km to go, Greipel showed his intentions by adding Frederik Willems to the chase which was now being conducted by Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge). 6km further down the road, Fröhlinger also took share in the work and the gap started to come down.

 

However, the break was a strong one and after Arashiro had taken maximum points on the day's third climb, the gap was still almost 8 minutes. With 63km to go, it was still 7.18 and the peloton had stopped gaining any ground.

 

The peloton reacts

That forced the sprint teams to react and O'Grady, Meyer, Willems, Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Belisol) and Pineau now upped the pace significantly. Meanwhile, Sicard punctured out of the front group and had to do a long chase to get back on.

 

With 53km to go, De Gendt took a huge turn on a hasty little climb and the break split into two parts as Delaplace, Sicard and Reza were left behind. Having crested the summit, Reza showed strength by making a furious acceleration to close the gap while Sicard and Delaplace fell further behind.

 

The gap comes down

Behind, Albasini, Koen De Kort (Argos-Shimano) and Bak had now also started to work and there was now a dedicated chase going on. With 40km to go, the gap was 5.20 and 10km further down the road, it was down to 3.05.

 

With the gap back to less than 2.30, Reza made a small attack, 19km still remaining. He got nowhere and when his teammate Arashiro later made a similar move on the Gileste climb, he started off an exciting finale that saw Cavendish finally take a win.

 

Result:

1. Mark Cavendish 5.31.51

2. Edvald Boasson Hagen

3. Peter Sagan

4. Andre Greipel

5. Roberto Ferrari

6. Alexander Kristoff

7. Juan Jose Lobato

8. Ramunas Navardauskas

9. Cyril Lemoine

10. Jose Joaquin Rojas

 

General classification:

1 Simon Gerrans - Orica GreenEdge 18.19.15

2 Impey - Orica GreenEdge
3 Micahel Albasini - Orica GreenEdge
4 Michal Kwiatkowski - Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0.01
5 Sylvain Chavanel - Omega Pharma-QuickStep
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen - Sky Procycling 0.03
7 Christopher Froome - Sky Procycling
8 Richie Porte - Sky Procycling
9 Nicolas Roche - Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0.09
10 Roman Kreuziger - Team Saxo-Tinkoff
 

Points classification:

1. Peter Sagan 111

2. Mark Cavendish 76

3. Alexander Kristoff 76

4. Andre Greipel 65

5. Edvald Boasson Hagen 58

 

Mountains classification:

1. Pierre Rolland 10

2. Simon Clarke 5

3. Blel Kadri 5

4. Thomas De Gendt 4

5. Mikel Nieve 3

 

Youth classification:

1. Michal Kwiatkowski 18.19.16

2. Andrew Talansky +0.16

3. Nairo Quintana +0.19

4. Tejay Van Garderen +0.25

5. Peter Sagan +0.33

 

Teams classification:

1. Orica GreenEdge  54.05.53
2. Sky Procycling  0.03
3. Team Saxo-Tinkoff  0.09
4. Garmin-Sharp +0.17

5. Movistar +0.20

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