Sprint finish: everything you need to know after stage 15

More success for Cavendish who must be making the other sprinters sick of the sight for him. Here’s how it all unfolded….

Image: Laurent Cipriani/AP/Press Association Images

Result: Mark Cavendish won the 193km Stage 15 to Montpellier after a bunch sprint. Tyler Farrar came in second and Alessandro Petacchi was third.

Here’s how it happened: As it was an almost pan flat stage, it was a return to the formulaic breakaway-catch-sprint pattern. Five riders formed a breakaway and stayed out front for most of the day.

The last of the escapees were caught with 3km to go as the HTC-HighRoad team of Mark Cavendish perfectly controlled the tempo at the front of the bunch.

As they were on Stage Seven, Cavendish’s team were practically flawless as they delivered him to his fourth victory in this year’s Tour de France. He is now the first rider who has ever won four road stages in four consecutive Tours.

He has also extended his lead in the green jersey competition which he is hoping to win for the first time having finished as runner-up for the past two years.

The Big Winner: The Europcar team of Thomas Voeckler. The team of the leader of the Tour de France is usually tasked with controlling the gap to the breakaway riders all day. But because HTC-HighRoad had set their sights on a stage win for Cavendish, Europcar could afford to take a back seat.

This ‘day off’ for Europcar will be very welcome as they recover from the Pyrenéean stages and prepare to defend the yellow jersey in the mountain stages over the days to come.

The Big Losers: All the sprinters in the race who aren’t named ‘Mark Cavendish’. He is ridiculously prolific and gives almost nothing to his rivals. He has properly contested 21 sprint finishes at the Tour in the last four years and he was won 19 of them.

It’s a remarkable record. The other sprinters must be sick of him as they are running out of ideas on how to beat him and his formidable team.

What about the Irish? Roche kept his powder dry in the bunch as he recovered from his tough day yesterday. He crossed the line in 20th place and remains 10’56″ behind the leader Thomas Voeckler.

Gavin Cooney
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Roche said on twitter yesterday that, due to his fall down the general classification, he will now spend the rest of the Tour trying to win a stage. The last Irish rider to win a stage of the Tour was his father Stephen way back in 1992.

So what happens tomorrow then? One last day off for the riders as the Tour enters its second rest day. How the big favourites recover tonight and tomorrow will have a massive bearing on how events unfold in the Alps over the next week.

Thomas Voeckler holds the expectations of a nation having emerged as a genuine challenger for the Tour de France. There hasn’t been a French winner since Bernard Hinault since 1985.

About the author:

Cillian Kelly  / Twitter: @irishpeloton

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