Tour de France: Final stage victory key for Cavendish
For the main favourites, today's final stage on to the Champs Elysées is largely ceremonial. But for Mark Cavendish the long, slightly uphill sprint this afternoon is not just the chance of a fourth straight win on cycling's most famous boulevard – it also represents the World Champion's final dress-rehearsal for next Saturday's opening road-race of the Olympics.
Following Friday's second 2012 Tour stage win, one of the most impressive displays of power in his career, Cavendish has little left to prove. That victory was intimidating enough and a sign that when he said he has never felt so good so late in the Tour, his words were no mere propaganda.
However, a 23rd stage win today would make Cavendish the fourth most prolific winner in the race's history, ahead of Lance Armstrong. This would be the cherry on the cake for British cycling, not to mention Sky, after the country's most successful Tour. And it would ratchet up the pressure on his Olympic rivals just that little bit more.
Every success Cavendish racks up increases his status as favourite – and the feeling among the public that he is unbeatable. Given the Olympic road-race is a far more difficult objective, more than twice the distance and over tougher terrain than today's largely flat 120-kilometre stage into Paris, a gold in London cannot be taken for granted.
Latest in Sport
Royal Rumble 2015: Roman Reigns triumphs after The Rock returns to set-up Wrestlemania showdown with Brock Lesnar
Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Transfer news and rumours LIVE: Gabriel Paulista to Arsenal, Chelsea target Raheem Sterling, Manchester United want Benzema
Royal Rumble 2015: Watch The Rock return to the WWE to rescue Roman Reigns
Transfer talk: Chelsea plan shock move for Raheem Sterling; Real Madrid open to selling Karim Benzema; Spurs target £5m Danny Ings
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...
£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...
£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...