Tour de France 2021 - Stage 5 as it happened - Tadej Pogacar shines as GC favourites have first big showdown
Emotions ran high on the Tour de France yesterday as Mark Cavendish rolled back the years by sprinting to Stage 4 glory at Fougeres to take over the green jersey from teammate Julian Alaphilippe. The ‘Manx Missile’ will take a backseat on Wednesday: Stage 5 is a 27.2km time trial to Laval, where the GC favourites will face their first big showdown.
Highlights: Cavendish stars on Stage 4 after one-minute rider 'protest'
And it's all smiles from Tadej Pogacar who had won the stage but also - perhaps fortunately - not taken over the burden of the yellow jersey at this early of the race. And this is what he had to say:
"It was a really good day today. I didn't do any mistakes and it was perfect weather and conditions for me. Unfortunately for some guys they had rain. I started pacing myself well on the little climb at the start and then I found a good rhythm. The goal was not to lose time but I gained time so I'm excited for the rest of the Tour. I would love to have the yellow jersey but it looks super nice on Mathieu so it's fine."
Spare a thought for Stefan Kung, who looked set to win a maiden Tour stage before Pogacar put in that rib-tickling ride. Here's the TT top 10:
Van der Poel holds on to yellow!
The gap was 10 seconds and then three seconds in the virtual standings ... and my word, he's defended the jersey! The Dutchman is 31 seconds down on Pogacar - enough for fifth place - at the finish, but that's enough for him to keep the yellow jersey by eight seconds!
Three more to finish...
It's going to be touch and go as to whether Van der Poel can hold on to yellow. But first, it's Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) who goes over 1:44 down - he will drop down the standings today. No disaster for the Ecuadorian given his terrain will be the mountains.
Now it's Julian Alaphilippe's turn... the swashbuckling Frenchman won't be back in yellow today and his deficit is 1:11 over the line. Just Van der Poel now!
Van Aert fails to deliver
The Belgian superstar comes 30 seconds down on the Slovenian defending champion and so his dreams of yellow are over for another year.
The Dutchman from Bora-Hansgrohe has had a shocker... All the benefits of having avoided the spills and splits so far have gone up in smoke after Wilco ships a huge 1:48 at the finish.
Pogacar clocks stage-winning time
Tadej Pogacar crossed the finish line a whopping 18 seconds faster than Stefan Kung who has had his heart broken by that barnstorming ride by the Slovenian. We all knew the 22-year-old was an all-round talent but this is proof that his ride in the Stage 20 TT was not a one off. Who needs a mountain at the end of a race against the clock? Not Pogacar, it seems.
Van der Poel digging deep
The Dutchman may yet hold onto the yellow. He's just gone through the second check 22 seconds down so he's still in the virtual GC lead by 16 seconds on Pogacar. As for Alaphilippe, he was 23 seconds down at the first check and 49 down at the second - so it's not the world champion's day.
Carapaz to drop down standings
The Ecuadorian was 34 seconds down on Pogacar at the first check so he will drop down from third place on GC today. And that continues to the second check where Carapaz finds himself a whopping 1:04 down on the man in white. His time is better than those posted by Enric Mas and Nairo Quintana, mind, who are 1:15 and 1:45 down respectively at the second check.
17.2km: Pogacar extends lead
Wow - what a ride from the defending champion, who could well be in yellow tonight after a fourth career stage win on the Tour. He may have gone too deep, too soon. But he's 17 seconds clear of Kung at the second check. And it looks even better for the Slovenian when Van Aert comes through the check 21 seconds down on Pogacar...
8.8km: Van der Poel going well
The yellow jersey matches rival Van Aert's time at the first check. That's a huge effort from the Dutchman, who said he doesn't expect to keep the yellow jersey - but he may well do so if he continues like this.
8.8km: Second place for Van Aert
The Belgian is seven seconds down on Pogacar at the first check. It's worth remembering that eight seconds separate them on GC - so they're almost on even terms now in the virtual standings.
8.8km: Pogacar fastest at first check!
Hello! Is this La Planche des Belles Filles all over again?!? The white skinsuit of Tadej Pogacar whizzes through the first check at 8.8km 10 seconds clear of the previous best time posted by Asgreen and Vinegaard. Lutsenko and Uran are 12 and 19 seconds down respectively at this point. The same two riders are 18 and 25 seconds down at the second check at 17.2km.
The yellow jersey is under way
Last man today, first in the general classification: Mathieu van der Poel gets his TT going - and will this be the last half-hour of the Dutch debutant in yellow in this year's Tour?
Thomas just under a minute down
Geraint Thomas limits his losses to 59 seconds as he crosses the line - so he will concede 34 seconds to rival Primoz Roglic today. It could have been far worse...
Alaphilippe gets going
The crowds roar as French darling Julian Alaphilippe rolls down the ramp. He's not in his rainbow jersey - nor any of the classification jerseys - and so its a plain blue regulation Deceuninck-QuickStep skin suit for him. Will he be in yellow tonight or will he be denied by Van Aert, or someone else?
Van Aert and Carapaz start
Just the two remaining riders to roll down the ramp now with Julian Alaphlippe and Mathieu van der Poel preparing to get going. Big half-hour for Carapaz, who will look to put down his GC credentials today.
Roglic posts decent time for fourth
With teammate Wout van Aert just getting started in his own personal mission to take a career-first yellow jersey, teammate Primoz Roglic overtakes Lucas Hamilton in the final few hundred metres and then crosses the line for a solid fourth place, 25 seconds down on Kung. That's a good effort all things considered. But how will it compare to his rivals?
Third for Asgreen
The Danish TT champion is good for provisional third at the finish, 18 seconds down on Kung. With Enric Mas and Tadej Pogacar now on course, Wilco Kelderman gets the top five under way by rolling down the ramp. Meanwhile, Roglic has entered the final kilometre...
Thomas well down at second check
The shoulder injury is clearly taking its toll on Thomas who comes through the 17.2km mark 43 seconds down on Kung's target time. Meanwhile, at the finish, Jonas Vingegaard comes over in second place eight seconds down on Kung. That's a great time from the young Dane, who gives Jumbo-Visma another option than Roglic for the GC.
Top 10 time
David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) has got going and so we're now into the top 10 on GC so sit tight, buckle up, and dust off your stopwatches. Pierre Latour (Team TotalEnergies) and Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) are the next two who are now on course. The Colombian has avoided all the spills so far and this will be a big test of his GC credentials.
8.8km: Thomas trying to limit his losses
Welshman Geraint Thomas is 25 seconds down at the first check and is clearly suffering from that crash on Monday, when he dislocated a shoulder. This would normally have his name all over it but the Ineos Grenadier is not at the races today. It will be interesting to see how he fares compared to teammate Richard Carapaz. They are essentially auditioning for team leadership ahead of the Alps.
17.2km: Danes fade at second check
Stefan Kung is still leading at the second checkpoint with Vinegaard five seconds down and Asgreen 17 seconds down. The Swiss just told reporters that "everything went perfectly" except for a slight issue with his radio, which packed in for a period.
8.8km: Roglic six seconds down
Primoz Roglic shows his form by coming through the first check just six seconds down on his teammate Vingegaard and Asgreen, the Danish co-leaders at the 8.8km mark. Meanwhile, we're onto the top 15 now with the likes of Geraint Thomas, Jakob Fuglsang, Vincenzo Nibali, Estaban Chaves and Rigoberto Uran all on course and heading towards the first check.
The biggest flash point so far...
... was that speedway-style skid from Stefan Bissegger of EF Education-Nippo. The Swiss tyro set off just as the drizzle was at its worst which made for a difficult ride for him. And at one point, he almost lost it on a tight right-hander. He recovered but is currently sixth place and over a minute back at the finish.
'What a save!' - Bissegger somehow keeps bike upright in the rain
8.8km: Vingegaard and Asgreen edge ahead
We have a race on our hand... Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) has just gone through the first check one second faster than Kung - and then he's matched by the Danish champion Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) just moments later. And looking at Roglic, he's putting in a huge ride as well.
Top 20 time: Primoz Roglic down the ramp
We will now find out just how much damage that crash two days ago has had on Primoz Roglic and his chances of winning this Tour de France. He's 1:36 down on GC and needs a good ride today - but he took a lot of skin off himself on Monday (as you can see in the picture below) and so it won't be comfortable for him to ride such an effort in a TT position. Let's see how he gets on.
Image credit: Eurosport
Stefan Kung leader at the clubhouse
Channelling his inner Fabian Cancellara, Swiss chrono specialist Stefan Kung powers home in a time of 32:19 to take the provisional lead of this TT by 36 seconds on Mattia Cattaneo. That quite possibly going to be the best time today. Meanwhile, Richie Porte is 14 seconds down at the first check and then 23 seconds down at the second check...
Surely only the likes of Asgreen and Van Aert can come anywhere near Kung's time?
King Kung keeps on catching riders
The Swiss powerhouse has swept up his third minute-man - this time it's Pierre Rolland - shortly after going through the second intermediate check in a time of 20:21 - that's 24 seconds faster than Bjerg. The Groupama-FDJ specialist is powering along in excess of 60kmph despite a headwind at this section. What a monster ride this is - although he has, of course, benefitted from the drying up of these roads after that heavy drizzle.
It's fair to say that Switzerland beat France for the second time in a few days with that capture of Rolland by Kung...
Cattaneo the new leader!
The Italian may have been 27 seconds down on Mikkel Bjerg at the second check but he's pulled it out the bag on the final third of this course. Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is our new man in the hotseat after setting a time of 32:55 - which is six seconds clear of the Dane. Meanwhile, Nielson Powless fades to provisional fifth at the finish - 45 seconds down on the Italian.
How not to make friends and influence people
By dangling a metaphoric fishing line above a swarming lake of social media bile with a slightly tongue-in-cheek tweet like this... Who'd have thought that TT fans could be so precious?!?
8.8km: Kung leads at first check
Stefan Kung looks very, very smooth on his bike and he's putting in a storming ride: the Swiss is nine seconds clear of second-place Powless at the first check. He could well be the man to beat today.
17.2km: Nielson powerless at the second check
The American has really faded on the second third of this course - after leading Bjerg by 11 seconds at the 8.8km mark he's now 27 seconds down at the 17.2km check. A case of too much, too soon?
Lopez and Porte on course
Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) needs a good ride today after slipping to 3:43 in arrears already in his first Tour after leaving Astana. He's got his TT under way, as has the Australian veteran Richie Porte, who recently won the Dauphine, and should go well here on paper.
8.8km: Powless the new leader
Nielson Powless is the new leader at the first check after coming through in a time of 10:58. That's five seconds clear of Mattia Cattaneo and 11 seconds ahead of Bjerg, the current leader at the finish. Powless has yet to go through the second check where Bjerg still leads with Cattaneo fading to three seconds in arrears.
Stefan Kung under way
The European TT champion at Groupama-FDJ has gone down the ramp and, with the roads now almost dried out, his time will be a good marker for the later starters. He's one of the big favourites for today after he won the opening TT in the Tour de Suisse.
Valverde and Sagan on course
The rain has eased up, which will be a welcome sight for the later starters. We're approaching the top 50 now with Peter Sagan and Alejandro Valverde among the big name riders currently on the course. Some notable start times for you - in UK time:
15:12 Primoz Roglic 15:16 Geraint Thomas 15:26 Rigoberto Uran 15:40 Tadej Pogacar 15:44 Wout van Aert 15:48 Julian Alaphilippe 15:50 Mathieu van der Poel
Cort powers into second place
Magnus Cort is having a storming ride to make up for his teammate Bissegger's disappointment. He's three seconds down at the first check, then eight seconds down at the second check - and here he is, with his resplendent moustache glistening in the drizzle, crossing the finish line just six seconds down on Mikkel Bjerg and in provisional second place ahead of EF Education-Nippo teammate Stefan Bissegger.
Second best time for Bissegger
Stefan Bissegger was dealt a bad hand in having to ride over wet roads but he managed - just - to stay up on his bike and has just crossed the line for provisional second place, 21 seconds behind Mikkel Bjerg. If the weather continues in this vein the Swiss could still finish on the podium today. Meanwhile, this from Bjerg when he finished...
Mikkel Bjerg left exhausted after time trial
McNulty bloodied and bruised
Images of Brandon McNulty coming through the second check a whopping 3:31 down on Mikkel Bjerg provides the proof that the American did come down in that earlier incident which wasn't caught by the TV cameras. Both knees are badly cut and bleeding heavily as he battles on to avoid the time cut. A blow for the UAE teammate of defending champion Tadej Pogacar, whose climbing ability will be needed once the race hits the mountains this weekend.
17.2km: Bissegger falls further back
The Swiss looked fairly ragged out there with his aerodynamic POC helmet taking on an almost Roglic-on-La-Planche vibe while letting out a fair bit of his brown quiff. He's shipped another 10 seconds at the second check and is now 20 seconds adrift of Bjerg as he approaches the final third of this race against the clock.
8.8km: Fifth best time for Bissegger at first check
The conditions are clearly taking their toll: the Swiss specialist only clocks the fifth best time at the first check some nine seconds down on Mikkel Bjerg and behind De Gendt, Perez and Sweeny, all of whom started in dry conditions. The weather continues to set in - the horizon has got shorter as the air fills with this persistent drizzle.
Ouf! Bissegger almost hits the deck
The Swiss's back wheel locks up on a tight right-hander and he pulls off a fantastic save to avoid hitting the deck there. That was almost a catastrophe for the youngster in the rain... And he's not the only one having troubles - Brandon McNulty either comes off or needs a bike change because TV cameras have picked him up waiting on the side of the road for his UAE support car.
Bissegger rolls down the ramp
The 22-year-old Swiss Grand Tour debutant gets his TT under way. Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) is something of a chrono specialist having won the 14.4km TT in Paris-Nice ealier this year, where he beat Remi Cavagna (just) and took six seconds off Primoz Roglic. He'd have wished for better conditions - that persistent drizzle is still coming down - but, at least on paper, Bissegger is one of the favourites today along with the likes of Stefan Kung, Van Aert and Alaphilippe.
Campenaerts on course
The Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts has got going - but these current riders are at a disadvantage owing to the rapidly deteriorating weather. There's a large shower just as Jonathan Castroviejo rolls down the ramp shortly after his Ineso Grenadiers teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart. Meanwhile, Max Walscheid of Qhubeka-Assos has set the fourth best time at the finish, 48 seconds down on Bjerg, who still leads. De Gendt, incidentally, eased up a little towards the finish and the Belgian is currently sixth at 56 seconds.
It's started to rain...
Just a drizzle at the moment but this could be a bit of a hindrance for the later starters, especially on those corners. Meanwhile, Thomas De Gendt put in the second best provisional time at the first check, dropping to third at the second check after swapping places with Anthony Perez of Cofidis. The Frenchman has just gone over the finish to set the third best time - 41 seconds down on Bjerg and level with Durbridge.
Who will be in yellow tonight?
Mathieu van der Poel currently leads the race by eight seconds over Julian Alaphilippe and he's not confident of staying in yellow given his struggles with the discipline. But it's not necessarily going to be the Frenchman we see back in yellow: Wout van Aert is in fourth place at 31 seconds and he's won five of his last eight time trials so must be a good bet to secure the first maillot jaune of his career. Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers is also 31 seconds down on GC but the Ecuadorian is not known for his against-the-clock prowess.
There's also Wilco Kelderman at 38 seconds and Tadej Pogacar at 39 seconds who both have an outside chance. The Slovenian won last year's Tour after a stellar final TT but the course did feature that climb up to La Planche des Belles Filles. It's worth noting that Pogacar did follow teammate Mikkel Bjerg in the UAE team car during the Dane's ride just now.
Sweeny, then Bjerg in the hot seat
Australia's Harry Sweeny helped lift Lotto Soudal spirits with a great ride to dispose Kuss from the top but then his effort (four seconds quicker than Kuss) was destroyed by Mikkel Bjerg. The Dane was quickest at both the first and second intermediate checks before coming home at Laval in a time of 33:01 - a full 52 seconds clear of Sweeny, who in turn drops to third place after compatriot Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange) comes over 11 seconds quicker but 41 seconds down on Bjerg.
New fastest time from Teunissen, then Kuss
Martin's time at the top did not last long. Teammate Mike Teunissen shaved 11 seconds off his time and then Sepp Kuss destroyed both his Jumbo colleagues with a time of 33:57 - a whopping 1:25 quicker than Teunissen. Given Kuss is not a renowned TT rider, that puts a little bit of perspective on things.
Slightly confusing though, this. Kuss started one minute behind Teunissen (I think) but didn't catch him before the finish... How does that work?!? (ANSWER: The riders are going at 90-second intervals, not 60-seconds as I previously thought.)
Martin: 'I went fast but not all-in'
The current leader had this to say after his ride: "It's a nice parcours and a nice atmosphere with great fans on the side. I was going fast but not going all-in. I felt my body needs some rest after the ig crash on the first day. So for me it was more of an easy day - I still had to go fast because of the time limit, but not all-in. Maybe I can give Primoz some tips but firstly he'll have to see how his body and condition is. He'll have some pain but Primoz is a figher. And he will come through it and we look from day to day with him."
Tony Martin the provisional leader
He won't lead this TT for long but the German veteran is currently in the hotseat at Laval after setting a time of 35:33 over this fast but challenging course. That's 11 seconds faster than Marco Haller and 37 seconds quicker than Clement Russo. Chris Froome is the latest to cross the line: he's taken fourth place at 46 seconds. Meanwhile, further back Mark Cavendish has just been caught and passed by Mikkel Bjerg of UAE-Team Emirates, his minute man. No surprise there: Cav will have one eye on tomorrow's stage to Chateauroux, where he won his first ever Tour stage in 2008.
Covid-19 tests for all
The remaining 177 riders are all undergoing Covid tests today before or after their time trials. This from Eurosport's roving reporter Ashley House...
8.8km: New leaders at first check
Omar Goldstein (Israel Start-Up Nation) pipped Martin's time at the first check - but the Israeli has since been bettered by Martin's Jumbo-Visma teammates Sepp Kuss and Mike Teunissen, who both clocked 11:28 - a whole 30 seconds faster than the German veteran, which just underlines how much stuffing he had knocked out from those two crashes earlier in the race.
17.2km: Martin leads at second check
The German veteran goes through the second intermediate check to clock the new benchmark of 22:17 which is 18 seconds faster than Haller. Hirschi is currently third at 35 seconds and Froome fourth at 38 seconds.
Meanwhile, the green jersey Mark Cavendish is on the course. He took his 31st Tour stage win yesterday; safe to say that his 32nd won't come today.
8.8km: Martin the early pace-setter
Tony Martin is currently the fastest rider at the first intermediate check, clocking 11:58. Austria's Marco Haller is one second back and Marc Hirschi is 11 seconds in arrears. Actually, Hirschi is down in provisional fourth now because Chris Froome has come through 10 seconds down on Martin. This used to be his domain but Froome 2021 is not the same Froome as the one in his pomp, even the one three years ago.
More stage wins and green jersey not beyond Cavendish, Mark II
As Mark Cavendish capped a sensational Tour de France comeback with an emotional victory in Fougères on Tuesday, Felix Lowe asks just how the race’s new green jersey can go in a Tour he never expected to ride, let alone star in?
When Cav won his first Tour de France stage in 2008 two-thirds of the current peloton had not yet turned 18, seven riders had not yet hit double figures, while yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel was just a 13-year-old yet to try his hand at cycle-cross.
Thirteen years on – and five after his previous visit to the top of a Tour podium – Cavendish has now notched his 31st victory on the world’s biggest bike race, edging him ever closer to Eddy Merckx’s landmark tally of 34 Tour stage wins. Any talk of Cavendish rewriting the history books one month ago would have been met with mild derision – but after Tuesday’s wonderful performance, even the Cannibal himself may start to lose some sleep...
Also on the course now are some other big names: Marc Hirschi (UAE-Team Emirates), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and, just now, Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation). Hirschi was one of the breakthrough riders of the 2020 Tour after starring in multiple breaks en route to winning a stage on his debut - all ahead of a big money move from Sunweb to the team of Tour champion Tadej Pogacar. But the Swiss separated his shoulder in that high-speed pile-up that marred the end of the opening stage and so he's been riding in the pain cave ever since.
Former world champion Pedersen has also been in the wars, while four-time Tour champion Froome looked like he was going to have to withdraw on day one after he. too, came down badly in that big crash. The Briton managed to finish the stage but he's a whopping 29 minutes down on GC already. But he'll take heart from Mark Cavendish's victory yesterday - proof that 36-year-olds who have been written off by everyone can still turn things round...
Tony Martin in the saddle
The German time trial champion Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) has just got his TT under way. How he will fare is anyone's guess - but he'd be forgiven taking it easy and not going all in given his role here on the Tour (supporting teammate Primoz Roglic) and his bashed-up body. Remember, it was Das Panzerwagen who went down hard in that crash caused by the spectator with her cardboard sign on Saturday - and then Martin crashed again in the incident two days later which saw teammate Robert Gesink crash out of the race after Geraint Thomas lost control going over a sleeping policeman.
Polka dot jersey on the course
The fourth rider to get started today is the Dutch debutant Ide Schelling of Bora-Hansgrohe. We've seen a lot of him in this race so far - most notably in breakaways on the opening three days - earning him the polka dot jersey. Schelling leads the climbers' competition with 5pts against compatriot Mathieu van der Poel's four points.
Stage 5 TT under way!
Armund Grondahl Jansen (Team BikeExchange) is the first rider down the ramp today. The Norwegian is 35:53 down on GC in 177th place going into the stage. Down he goes and this TT has officially started. Jansen is followed by Arkea-Samsic duo Clement Russo and Dan McClay, the British fastman showing off some road rash on his right knee. He won't be the only one - and it's going to be interesting to see how many of the riders cope after all those crashes earlier in the week.
GC showdown ahead...
Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to live coverage of the first major GC showdown of this year's Tour - the 27.2km time trial in and around Laval. It's a largely flat parcours that runs in a clockwise circuit between Changé to Laval. It's a mildly windy and slightly overcast day in the Mayenne as the race bade farewell to Brittany yesterday after four drama-filled days. The two intermediate time checks come at 8.8km and 17.2km ahead of the finish - and the first rider is about to go down the ramp...
Stage 4 recap - ‘The magician is back!’ - Cavendish claims fairytale win on Stage 4
Stop the clock. Turn back time. Six years after Mark Cavendish won in Fougères during his last spell at QuickStep, the 36-year-old won again in the same fortified Breton town to complete his remarkable comeback to cycling’s top table in what is proving to be an unbelievable Indian Summer for the Manx sprinter.
Back on the Tour for the first time in three years, Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) ended a five-year drought on the world’s biggest bike race in true nail-biting fashion – soaring past Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and holding off a late surge from France’s Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) after lone escapee Brent van Moer (Lotto Soudal) was swept up in dramatic fashion just metres from the finish.
Cavendish’s 31st victory on the Tour saw him leapfrog French teammate Julian Alaphilippe to the top of the green jersey standings as Carlton Kirby declared "the magician is back" on Eurosport commentary.
"This team have some of the best riders in the sport and the stars aligned for me,” Cavendish said after bushing away the tears. “After so many years it's nice to have some good luck for a change.”
'I thought I was never coming back' - Tearful Cavendish on win
Cavendish ‘very much capable’ of breaking Merckx’s stage wins record - Kelly
Sean Kelly has backed Mark Cavendish to break Eddy Merckx’s record of stage wins at the Tour de France after the Manx’s win on Stage 4.
Cavendish made an emotional return to the top of cycling on Tuesday after being propelled to victory by his Deceuninck–QuickStep teammates.
The 36-year-old, who admitted he never thought he would race again at the Tour let alone win, moved to 31 wins at the Grand Tour – three behind Merckx.
And Kelly believes that his sudden renaissance can propel him beyond the Belgian legend.
"It's a real dream now. Mark knows he can beat these guys,” said Kelly.
“Coming into this Tour he knew he had to have the feeling that he can do something but you're always concerned how fast the new guys are in the final 100 metres.
“Now he's done it, now he's got the confidence and he has the team around him, that record - he very much capable of getting it."
'He’s just unbelievable' - Praise rolls in for hero Cav
Cavendish will have a chance to double up soon with another flat stage awaiting the peloton on Thursday after a 27km individual time trial.
“An amazing sprint and an amazing guy the way he’s made this recovery,” continued Kelly.
“He’s just unbelievable. He’s got it for many years and is back where he was many years ago. He was just waiting in that wheel then kicked for it and comes over comfortably enough.
“Another guy might try to take it much earlier but Mark Cavendish has that experience and that power. He’s got that fitness level again, where does it come from? He’s worked on it for a long time and it doesn’t come just like that.
“At any level you need that mental power to get back in there but at the higher level of course there are more expectations on you.
“The press [were] going to ask: ‘are you finished, are you going to win another race’. Suddenly something just clicked but it’s all that work as well.
“It takes a lot of time to get back. That’s what Mark has been through. He’s been working on it and now he is getting the fruits of it.”