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Cavendish unbeatable in sprints in 2009 Tour de France


Cavendish unbeatable in sprints in 2009 Tour de France

By Andrew Hood

July 14, 2009 —  Mark Cavendish is proving unbeatable in the sprints at the 2009 Tour de France.

The “Manxster” negotiated a tricky, uphill finish and easily dashed to his third stage victory so far in this Tour in Tuesday’s 194.5km 10th stage from Limoges to Issoudun.

Thor Hushovd (Cervélo) came through second and American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) was third, but Cavendish was never seriously challenged in his third stage win in three sprints he’s contested so far in this Tour.

“It was a tough finale, but my teammates did a great job leading me out. All I had to do was finish off the job,” said Cavendish after notching his seventh career Tour stage win. “There are probably four more opportunities for sprints during this Tour, three more this week, and I’ll keep on going for the wins. My big objective is to win on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on the last day.”

There were no shakeups in the overall standings, with Italian Rinaldo Nocentini retaining the overall lead as the main pack roared into Issoudun after an interesting day marked by a controversial ban of race radios during the stage.

A few big name riders, namely Levi Leipheimer and Bradley Wiggins, lost 15 seconds each when the packed fractured on the high-speed run into the sprint.

Under racing rules, if the bunch is split by a crash or a rider suffers a mechanical within the final 3km, they do not lose time. Splits caused by the natural selection of the race stand, however, regardless of where they occur.

The big story was the decision by Tour organizers to ban the use of two-way race radios commonplace in cycling since the mid-1990s.

Critics say the use of the radios – which allows communication between the sport directors following in team cars and racers in the heat of the battle – has stifled the spontaneity of the action.

With information too readily available, riders are quickly able to organize chases and snuff off potentially dangerous breakaways, thus suffocating the action of the race, so say the critics.

Riders and sport directors almost universally were against the idea to ban the radios, insisting that the ban actually makes the race more dangerous because riders need to fall back to trailing team cars to receive orders.

A similar ban will be imposed in the 13th stage later this week.

On Tuesday, the pack decided that they didn’t want to take unnecessary risks and rode along at a relatively leisurely pace, at about 40kph, slower than the typical average of about 43-44kph on a flat stage.

"The reason behind having no radios was to have more attractive racing and that's obviously not what happened," said Astana team boss Johan Bruyneel.

"If that is what they wanted to accomplish, it has been a failure and I just think it is a bad idea to go back 20 years and do something like this stupidly in the biggest race of the year.

"So I think the banning of the radios has accomplished the direct opposite of what they wanted to achieve."

Wednesday’s 192km 11th stage from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau sees the return of the race radio – and hopefully the return to real racing.

Former Vail Daily editor Andrew Hood now lives in Spain and covers cycling. His reports on the 96th Tour de France will appear daily on Also follow him on twitter at



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