Comeback King: the Manx Missile Cavendish wins Emotional Sprint at Le Tour
In a fairytale come true, after 5 years battling crashes, serious illness and deselection, Mark Cavendish won his 31st stage victory at the Tour de France in Fougeres, where he won 6 years ago. An incredible display of teamwork from Deceuninck-QuickStep, as teammate Alaphilippe handed over the Green jersey to him
Celebrations within the Deceuninck-QuickStep team will no doubt go on into the late evening as the Belgian team delivered their sprinter Mark Cavendish to the front of the race to win Fougeres in unbelievable scenes that has delighted cycling fans around the world, and brought the passion back into cycling after the dreadful crashes on the first three opening stages in Brittainy.
It was a close call, breakaway rider Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal) attacked his breakaway buddy Pierre-Luic Périchon (Cofidis) with 11km to go and solo'd towards the finish line.
Behind the sprinters team seemed disinterested in chasing, and then 6km to go Deceuninck-QuickStep came to the front and decimated Van Moer's lead from 55 secs with 6km to go to less than 20s with 2 km to go!
Van Moer was caught with less than 300m to go.
In the final sprint Cavendish lost Morkov wheel slighty and was closed down a bit by Philipsen,but still able to pass. He timed his kick perfectly and powered to the front in the last 50m showing he is still one of the strongest sprinters in the world.
Cavendish was visibily shaken, hugged all of his teammates and sat down on the ground is disbelief.
All the more unbelieveable is Cavendish won here in Fougeres six years ago.
Mark Cavendish's teammate Michael Mørkøv said, "We got a bit far back on the last 2km, so I had to bring up Mark and luckily, we had a class rider like Julian there to bring us up in the last part."
"Mark is a legend and I'm really proud to ride with him and bring him back on this level. Before today he had 30 wins in this race and to help him be back winning on a high level is a really proud moment as well."
"He wasn't even in the dressing room when the team was selected. He made it in at the last moment and showed today that he's a true pro bike rider who was prepared even though he wasn't supposed to do the race. He took his chance and it paid off."
Julian Alaphilippe who handed his Green jersey to teammate Cavendish: "He’s just amazing. I’m so happy for him, so happy for the team. We really believed in him for today’s stage. We knew the final. This is such an emotional victory for him but also for everyone.He was so motivated. Like a neo-pro. He showed his grinta and his team spirit. He’s still one of the best sprinters in the world and he showed it again today.
"Michael Mørkøv for me is the best leadout rider in the world. I don’t say that because we’re on the same team but you can see if every sprint that he’s doing he always perfect, calm, relaxed. He does his effort at good moment and I think today for Mark, Michael was really important."
Mark Cavendish said on his victory, "I don’t know what to say, man. Like, just being here is special enough, you know. I didn’t think I’d ever get to comeback to this race.
"Just fire, man, just fire from the whole team. We didn’t know if we were going to get them. We lost Ballero, same thing as happened to me, he lost spokes of his wheel. But you see what a team this is, you’ve got the green jersey, the world champion, Julian Alaphilippe… He just comes to give the final pull to catch the breakaway, putting everything in. So many people didn’t believe in me, but these guys did, and they do."
"I thought I was never coming back to this race, honestly. When you come to Deceuninck-QuickStep, you’ve got the best riders in the world so there wasn’t even a thought to come here, you know. But the stars aligned, somehow. I never ever want bad things to happen to good people, but after the last year, it’s just nice to have good luck for myself, fuck… ooops sorry!"
Tomorrow's stage 5 from Changé to Lava is the first individual time trial which is quite long at 27km. It will be a tough test for the GC contenders like Roglic and Thomas who are both injured, trying to ride their time trial bikes.
VIDEO: 2021 Tour de France Stage 4 Highlights
2021 Tour de France Stage 4 Top 10
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:20:17
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:0:00
3 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:0:00
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:0:00
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:0:00
6 Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM 0:0:00
7 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis 0:0:00
8 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:0:00
9 Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:0:00
10 André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation 0:0:00
2021 Tour de France GC after Stage 4
1 Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 16:19:10
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:08
3 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:31
4 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:38
6 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:39
7 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:40
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
9 Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:00:45
10 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:52