Mark Cavendish won his 21st Tour de France stage this afternoon, having perfectly negotiated a chaotic run-in to the finish.
The 207.5kilometre flat stage marked a return to comfortable territory for the world champion following five categorised climbs and a grueling uphill finish yesterday.
Cavendish's win today was all the more impressive since he wasn't afforded the luxury of a lead out by his team, as he was so reliably given last year when he took five stage wins in total.
The Briton went head-to-head with former team mates André Greipel and Matt Goss as he did when he tested his legs in yesterday's intermediate sprint. But where Australian Goss came out on top then, it was Cavendish that affirmed himself as the man to beat today.
Any questions as to the sprinting caliber of a leaner, less powerful Cavendish this year were cast aside as he came apparently out of nowhere to take victory.
Greipel looked strongest coming into the final kilometres, his team Lotto Belisol commanding the lead. The German was positioned perfectly, Cavendish 20 or so places back. But the plucky Brit worked his way from wheel to wheel, until there was no one left to pass.
Today's win affirms Cavendish as a true tactician. As the bunch jostled for position, he kept a cool head, picking a route through the tumultuous field. For a man that went into the Tour with a basic goal of just "a stage win," this marks the most impressive of starts.
There were no notable changes in the overall standings, with Fabian Cancellara keeping hold of the yellow leader's jersey.Reuse content