Well now, who would have believed it.
The post race interview says so much. Mark Cavendish is lost for words after his 31st win at the Tour de France.
The legend lives on.
And two days later Tour de France stage win #32 is chalked up. Again the break away is foiled and the sprinters battle out the finish. The man in green wins with apparent ease.
It looks like he is in love with cycling again and his smile says that all is well with the World.
This is a rider who is still winning stages of the World’s greatest 3 week cycle race at the age of 36. This is unprecedented. This simply should not be happening.
The next hurdle to over come is the Alps. Mountain stages just need to be completed within certain time limits, if he gives up or does not get to the finish line his Tour is over. With the help of his team mates he survives.
Back on the flat Cavendish is in his element. Stage 10 is a textbook finish. His team mates work together and go flat out to deliver the man in green almost to the finish line. Cavendish does the rest, making it look so easy. Win #33 is reached – just one away from the all time record.
This is getting tougher – but there is no stopping the Manx Missile. A hot day in the South of France is where he draws level with Eddy Merckx.
What with the fantastic results that the British Olympic track cyclists achieved and Bradley Wiggins winning le Tour along with further Gold in the Olympic time trial, Mark Cavendish has faded away from the public gaze of late. To me he is still a “Bike Hero” nevertheless.
The stage win in the video came after huge effort from his team to drag him to a point where he could strike. This final sprint of his is truly heroic. Notice the guys at the front that Cavendish catches with about 50 metres to go just watch him go past, as they know that they have no answers to his raw pace.
The commentators clearly enjoyed watching the race reach its climax – “…and here comes the Missile!” shouts Phil Liggett.
The video might need watching a second time when one can focus on where Cavendish comes from.
This lad was best described as a “Dandy” – one of his many nicknames was The Lion King, which helped paint the picture of this very self confident athlete with his mane of curly hair and wrap around shades. He oozed sauve style, posessed a real sense of arrogance and was a natural team leader.
Cipollini was a sprinter, a man who loved to be greeted by his adoring fans on the winner’s podium at the end of the race whilst looking like he had not even been down the paper shop and back on his bike. He was that good that he would turn up at the Tour de France win a few flat stages in the first week or so, and then give up and abandon the race when things got serious in the mountain stages. He would jump off his bike at the first sight of the Pyrenees or Alps and be down on the beach in Rimini quicker than you could say “lazy, arrogant, spineless superstar”
All in all he was a great athlete and a bit of a bully if truth be told. Still he made the Italian cycling fans proud in 2002 in a brutal finish to the World Championships…….
is my bike hero #3.
I have never seen anything like the way in which he finished up the Champs Elysees to win the final stage of the Tour de France in 2010.
I was lucky enough to be in France when I saw this finish on TF1, the French equivalent of BBC1.
Now back in his homeland you could only see this amazing finish to the world’s biggest bike race if you had satellite television. In France he would be treated like a God, a true hero, as cycling is in the French psyche and is part of the national culture. Whereas he could walk into any public place in the UK and be pretty sure that nobody would recognise him. Even if he wore a t-shirt printed with the phrase “I am Mark Cavendish” he is hardly going to get mobbed.
In cycling terms this man is a one off, so much so that he dictates the way the event organisers plan the route and finishes of stages in the Tour de France. The Tour de France is the World’s greatest cycling competition has been forced to consider how to set out the course that the race takes, as if the race stage is a flat one with a straight finish, there is only going to be one winner.
You only have to watch the final 200m of this race and you can see that this man is head and shoulders above his peers, who themselves are at the pinnacle of their sport.