It’s been nearly 2 years. 12th July, 2013 was the last time Mark Cavendish, one of the most decorated sprinters won his last grand tour stage win (his 25th Tour de France stage win and 43rd in all), seemed a distant memory for most. With Critics said he might not win again? What better way to answer them than by winning a stage. Cavendish, won the 7th stage of the 2015 Tour, to add to what has been an eventful week for Etixx-Quick Step.
Tony Martin, the overall leader at the end of stage 6, withdrew with a broken collarbone. He was joined by Lotto-Soudal’s Greg Henderson as a non-starter. Despite starting as the defacto leader, Froome was not in the Maillot Juane and it is the first time since 2007, a race did not see the Yellow Jersey worn. There no serious crashes, with Alberto Contador and Robert Gesink crashing in the neutral zone early on. No harm was done as they were with the main body for the rest of the race.
1.5kms into the stage you had the break away. It consisted of Kristjian Durasek), Luis Angel Maté, Anthony Delaplace, Brice Feillu and Daniel Teklehaimanot (current king of the mountains). Tekllehaimanot won the small tussle between the 5 of them to take the only point of today’s sole category 4 climb. He now has 4 points in the King of the Mountains Classification with a 2 point lead over Joaquim Rodriguez. With the breakaway maintain their lead over the Peloton, the main sprinters started to compete for points for 6th and onwards in the intermediate sprint. John Degenkolb outsprinted the rest of the favourites to take the maximum points here
With 50kms to go, the breakaway had their lead slowly eroded. After a 35km struggle, the final member of the breakaway was absorbed by the main group as the teams jostled to keep their sprinters in the front. General Classification contenders had their teams fall back behind the aggressive teams just a bit, to protect their main rider.
At a blistering pace the final 5kms were covered as Cavendish locked onto the wheel of Alexander Kristoff. With Greipel and Sagan made their moves, It was Cavendish trying to power his way through the centre. Once he really got his sprinting rhythm in gear, there was no stopping the Manx missile who won his 26th Tour de France stage win (44th in all grand tours).
This is the 3rd stage win for Etixx-Quick step following Tony Martin and Zdenek Stybar’s wins on stage 3 and 6 respectivley. Cavendish dedicated the win to Tony Martin in his interview and without a doubt, Martin would be similing from his hospital bed as he saw his teammate take the win. The Manx Missile will now look to try and take the remaining flat stages, having finally tasted grand tour success in a long time.
Chris Froome is now in Yellow for the 16th time and he holds a 11 and 13 second lead over Peter Sagan and Tejay van Garderen. It marks the end of a good day for British cycling and continues to be an excellent Tour de France for Etixx-Quick Step.
The General Classification looks like
The Points Classification looks like