Cycling: Clinical Cavendish resumes normal service but Froome's challenge fades

 

Mark Cavendish was grateful to receive the full backing of Team Sky as he claimed victory on the final stage of the Tour of Denmark yesterday.

Cavendish was put to fore by his team and set about chasing the day's breakaway, finishing strongly with a powerful sprint to take top honours on stage six in Frederiksberg. The 27-year-old, back from an extended break following a disappointing Olympic experience, held off the attentions of Matteo Pelucchi and Andre Griepel at the line.

"The team controlled the race the whole way," Cavendish said after sealing his 12th victory of the season

"The lads had great faith in me and delivered me to the line perfect. I'm really happy to get the win and repay their hard work, especially as I haven't been in the best form recently. "

The sprint finish allowed Lieuwe Westra to safely hold on to his overnight lead, the Dutchman clinching the yellow jersey by 19 seconds over nearest rival Ramunas Navardauskas.

Team Sky also took away the team classification award for their efforts over the Tour. Sports director Servais Knaven said: "It was the perfect way to finish off the race. The team were incredibly strong and controlled the race the whole day. After 25km we started riding and chased down a small breakaway."

There was less good news for Team Sky in the Vuelta a Espana as Joaquim Rodriguez further extended his lead over Chris Froome at the top of the general classification after finishing second behind Philippe Gilbert on stage nine today. Belgian Gilbert earned his first victory of 2012 after beating Rodriguez in a sprint finish at the end of the 196km ride from Andorra to Barcelona after the pair had broken clear on the final climb.

Barcelona-born Rodriguez may have missed out on the stage win in his home town but the Katusha rider can take satisfaction from the fact he now boasts a 53-second lead in the race to finish first overall. Briton Froome slipped 33 seconds behind the Spaniard on Saturday and he lost more ground today after finishing in the chasing pack.

Overall, Alberto Contador remains in third spot, seven seconds behind Froome and now a minute behind Rodriguez, with another Spaniard – Alejandro Valverde – in fourth place. Today is the first rest day of the 2012 Vuelta before the race resumes on Tuesday with the 166km stage 10.

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