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

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam