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Unstoppable Cavendish Dominates in Paris

There was no lead-out train. No Mark Renshaw to guide the Manx Missile cleanly into the final turn as there was in 2009. No long stream of white and yellow flying into the final meters.

In the closing moments of the 2010 Tour de France it was just Mark Cavendish, sitting in fourth coming into the final turn, riding on the wheels of his rivals. As the road straightened out, Cav did what he does best. He put an end to all doubt, stamped the biggest bike race in the world with his name, and wrote his way – yet again – into the history books.

Blazing up the right side of the road, the HTC-Columbia racer pulled away from three of the fastest men in the world to claim his fifth Tour de France stage win of the year and the 15th of his career. The victory marks the first time in history that any rider has won the coveted final stage on the Champs-Élysées back to back and serves as the crowning glory for a highly successful Tour de France bid for HTC-Columbia that was not without its challenges.

“It’s one of the most beautiful feelings in the world, winning on the Champs-Élysées,” said Cavendish. “I didn’t have the best start to the race but once we got that first stage win we went on a roll. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions racing the Tour de France. For me it’s the most beautiful event in the world.”

How it Unfolded

An unusually large break of 11 strong riders got away early and eventually made for an extremely uneasy run into Paris. The strength and numbers in the group forced the sprinter’s teams to chase harder than anticipated, disrupting the organization that typically occurs as early as 15-10k from the finish.

When the last of the runaways were finally reigned in with 6k to the finish, HTC-Columbia moved Cavendish to the front of the peloton. The move was a little early and Lampre Farnese Vini came around to agitate for their sprinter and holder of the green points classification jersey, Alessandro Petacchi. But by the time the red flag signifying 1k to go came into view, the sprinter’s teams were long gone and it was every man for himself as the pace soared to over 70 km/h (43 mph).

At first blush, Cavendish appeared to be in a precarious position – a little further back than he ought to be at four wheels down coming out of the final turn. But as his three rivals stood up on their pedals to lay on the last of their power, the Manx Missile delivered the death blow, roaring past them at a speed that seemed almost superhuman.

Despite his overall dominance in sprint victories, the win in Paris was not enough to catapult Cavendish to the top of the heap in the points classification jersey and Petacchi managed to maintain control, winning the green jersey by a narrow margin of just 11 points.

No doubt Cav’s towering pile of Tour de France stage wins will serve as sufficient consolation for HTC-Columbia as they head home from Paris with more than their share of victor’s spoils.

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