A week after he claimed Britain's first ever stage victory on the Champs Elysées in the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish was back in action yesterday when he sprinted through a downpour to win the Sparkasse-Bochum race in western Germany.
Cavendish summoned a burst of awesome pace at the end of a tough 177km race to claim his 20th victory of the season ahead of German Gerald Ciolek. One of four Britons to complete the Tour this year, appropriately enough for a sprinter, Cavendish has been the fastest to return to racing – and to winning – in an event with special associations.
"For Cav, Bochum's been a little bit going back to his racing roots, and that's why he wanted to take part," said his Columbia-HTC team manager Rolf Aldag. "He lived in Bochum in 2006 and 2007 just before he became a full-time pro, and Sparkasse, the team that he rode for at the time, sponsor this race.
"He said he knows that in Germany cycling's not having a great time, so he wanted to help out. Plus before the race, he showed everybody from the team round – the hotel where he lived for three months in 2006 and the sushi bar where he used to eat."
Cavendish will now do two more criteriums – short but lucrative city centre exhibition races – this week in Holland and Belgium before racing the Tours of Ireland and Missouri. Last year he competed in both events and took three stage wins in each.
"He might go on after that but it depends how tired he is," Aldag added. "Frankly, anything after the Tour he did can only be a bonus."
Since the Manxman clinched his record-breaking sixth stage in Paris, Cavendish has been almost constantly on the road, winning a criterium 24 hours later in Aalst, Belgium, then riding another two in Holland before heading to Germany.
His non-stop activity contrasts sharply with life after Paris for the other British Tour star, Londoner Bradley Wiggins. Having secured fourth overall in the Tour, England's best ever finish, Wiggins has been easing back, writing on his Twitter feed this weekend that he was "officially off the wagon and will be in Manchester on Saturday night ripping it up". If Wiggins' desire for downtime is understandable after completing both the Tours of Italy and France in less than three months, he will be back into racing in the Eneco Tour, held in Holland and Belgium, midway through this month.
The Londoner is then pencilled in to race the Tour of Britain in early September before going onto the individual time trial at the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland later that month. There are unconfirmed reports that he may also take part in a race in Australia before ending his season.
Since Paris, riding has taken a back seat for British Tour finisher Charly Wegelius, who tied the knot with his long-standing girlfriend, Camilla, on Saturday. While the hardest part of Wegelius' week was putting up a giant marquee for his post-wedding bash, David Millar has by far the toughest post-Tour programme.
Eighty-fifth in Paris last Sunday, Millar will now be taking part in the Tour of Spain, starting on 29 August.
The Scot is set to be the only rider in the peloton to take part in all three major stage races – the Tours of Italy, France, and Spain – this year.
British riders' next tour appearances:
*Tour of Ireland (21-23 August)
*Eneco tour (18-25 August)
*Tour of Spain (29 Aug-20 Sep)
.. and other forthcoming events
*The World Championships (23-27 Sep, Mendrisio, Switzerland), Tour of Lombardy (17 October, Italy), Tour of Great Britain (12-19 September).