Tour de France: Cavendish tightens his grip on green jersey with stage win No 4

Manxman admits he is 'almost unbeatable' in a sprint after leaving main rivals trailing in Montpellier

Mark Cavendish's dream of donning the green jersey in Paris came a stage closer to realisation yesterday, when the Briton collected his fourth win of this year's race – but regardless of what he achieves between now and next Sunday on the Champs Elysées, another Tour record now belongs to the Manxman.

No other sprinter has won as many Tour stages – 19 – as the 26-year-old from the Isle of Man in a four-year period. It is an indication of Cavendish's continuing domination of the sprints but also of something equally difficult to achieve in a race as fraught as the Tour: his consistency.

Except for 2007, when he struggled in his debut Tour year, Cavendish has never failed to produce at least four stage wins each season. As the Briton once said, a single victory would have been enough to make his name in the sport.

There was an understandable touch of bravado in his answers in Montpellier yesterday after he won ahead of main rivals Tyler Farrar in second and Alessandro Petacchi in third, with one question – "are you unbeatable Mark?" – receiving a coy "almost" in return.

But, to his credit, Cavendish refused to stand square in the limelight, instead insisting it was cycling's equivalent of the back-up staff that really deserved the praise. "It's me that's on the results sheet, but it's my team that are really behind this," he said. "When [Phillipe] Gilbert attacked in the end, they didn't over-react but brought him back slowly so it wouldn't create chaos.

"Before that, they're the ones that work flat out for 200 kilometres today, no other team supporting them. I don't understand why other teams bring sprinters if they're not willing to work for a sprint."

A quick glance at the results sheet, which shows no other sprinter barring Cavendish taking more than one stage this year, might explain that.

It is still too early to say whether Cavendish will become Britain's first green jersey in Paris for sure and with the Alps between him and the French capital, Cavendish was the first to preach caution.

"It's far from guaranteed, it's not in the bag", he said. "In 2009 Thor [Hushovd] managed to pull back a lot of points on me in the mountains and I was disqualified from one stage and in 2010 I came back from nowhere to finish 10 points or so behind Petacchi. I'll just keep plugging away."

Cavendish's difficult days in the Pyrenees, particularly on Saturday, where he finished sixth-last, is perhaps worrying the Briton but he insisted it was the "smell of winning on days like today" that kept him going in the mountains.

Now, too, there is the whiff of Paris in the air, and after tripling his green-jersey lead from 13 points to 37 yesterday, for all his lack of certainty, Cavendish is closer to success than at any other point during the last two years.

There are flies in the ointment, too. After a day of gusting coastal gales – "although there's more wind in the press room, it wasn't as bad as that", the sprinter joked – the way Cavendish placed even more emphasis than usual on his team's assistance was perhaps an indirect reference to HTC-Highroad's continuing difficulties to find a sponsor for next year.

There will be no problem for Cavendish, who has been repeatedly linked to Sky for 2012, although neither side has confirmed this. But today was the deadline given by his team director, Rolf Aldag, for a new sponsor to be announced and there has been an ominous silence from the team in that quarter.

Today's rest day sees the usual round of press conferences, with current leader Thomas Voeckler and defending champion Alberto Contador – by pure coincidence – holding theirs at the same time. From tomorrow onwards, as the race makes its first tentative move into the Alps, there will be rather more serious clashes between the two.



Standings

Stage 14 (Saint-Gaudens - Plateau de Beille.168km):

1 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 5hr 13min 25sec

2 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Sp) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0.21

3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek at 0.46

4 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 0.48

5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling

6 Alberto Contador Velasco (Sp) Saxo Bank Sungard

7 Thomas Voeckler (Fr) Team Europcar

8 Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek

9 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fr) AG2R La Mondiale

10 Pierre Rolland (Fr) Team Europcar

(All at the same time.)

Selected Others: 58 Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky Procycling at 14min 59sec.77 David Millar (GB) Team Garmin-Cervelo at 17.37.111 Ben Swift (GB) Sky Procycling at 24.34.164 Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 26.54



Stage 15 (Limoux - Montpellier, 187km):

1 Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad 4hr 20min 23sec

2 Tyler Farrar (US) Team Garmin-Cervelo

3 Alessandro Petacchi (It) Lampre - ISD

4 Daniel Oss (It) Liquigas-Cannondale

5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Sp) Movistar Team

6 Ben Swift (GB) Sky Procycling

7 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team

8 Tony Gallopin (Fr) Cofidis.Le Credit En Ligne

9 Francisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Sp) Movistar Team

10 Sebastien Hinault (Fr) AG2R La Mondiale

(All at the same time.)

Selected Others: 114 Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky Procycling 4hr 20min 23sec, 117 David Millar (GB) Team Garmin-Cervelo at 0.28sec



General classification after stage 15:

1 Thomas Voeckler (Fr) Team Europcar 65hr 24min 34sec

2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek at 1min 49sec

3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 2.06

4 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek at 2.15

5 Ivan Basso (It) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3.16

6 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Sp) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 3.44

7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Sp) Saxo Bank Sungard at 4.00

8 Damiano Cunego (It) Lampre - ISD at 4.01

9 Thomas Danielson (US) Team Garmin-Cervelo at 5.46

10 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team at 6.18

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voicesBryony Beynon: This is something every woman can relate to
Arts and Entertainment
film

News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Arts and Entertainment
Steven, Ella Jade and Sarah in the boardroom
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is reported to be in final negotiations to play Doctor Strange for Marvel although the casting has not yet been confirmed
film
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Life and Style
fashion

World Beard and Moustache Championships held last week

News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Copycat culture: the Chateau Zhang Laffitte in China, top, and the building which inspired it, in Paris, bottom
architectureReplicas of Western landmarks are springing up in unlikely places
Sport
Rolando Aarons watches as his effort finds the corner of the Manchester City goal to give Newcastle the lead
footballManchester City 0 Newcastle 2: Holders crash out on home turf
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain