An outstanding team effort from Deceuninck-QuickStep saw Mark Cavendish roar to a 32nd career win on the Tour de France with victory in Stage 6, on July 1. Cavendish’s third successive victory in the city of Châteauroux – a decade after the second – saw the Manxman strengthen his grip on the green jersey. Jasper Philipsen and Nacer Bouhanni completed the podium as Mathieu van der Poel kept the yellow jersey.
Mark Cavendish felt a strong affinity for Châteauroux on the day of the stage 6 race. It was in the sleepy birth town of Gerard Depardieu, where Cavendish, aged 23, won his first-ever Tour stage in 2008, and where he sprinted to his seventeenth triumph three years later in 2011. It took another decade, but the Manx Missile completed a hat-trick on Thursday with his latest win in Châteauroux – his second victory of this Tour and the 32nd of his career.
Benefitting from a textbook lead-out from his Deceuninck-QuickStep train, Cavendish powered past Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) on the home straight and kept France’s Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic) at bay to write another chapter in one of the most astonishing comebacks in recent years.
Frenchman Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) and Slovakia’s Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) completed the top five ahead of Dutchman Cees Bol (Team DSM), Belgian duo Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), the Australian Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) and Denmark’s Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo).
Successive sprint victories see Cavendish, 36, extend his lead over Philipsen in the green jersey standings to 46 points, with Bouhanni three points back in third. Philipsen’s teammate Mathieu van der Poel retained the yellow jersey after a GC stalemate following the shake-up witnessed from Wednesday’s time trial.
Dutch debutant Van der Poel still leads defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) by eight seconds on GC, with Van Aert third at 30 seconds, as the race hits the hills of the Morvan range on Friday ahead of a weekend in the Alps.
A lively start to the stage saw a high pace set, and the breakaway was ultimately limited to just two riders, with Greg van Avermaet joined by Roger Kluge up the road.
The pair stayed away for over 100 km, but were swallowed up by the peloton, as the finish in Chateauroux loomed, before Cavendish delivered in the dash for the line.
Friday’s Stage 7 from Vierzon to Le Creusot offers a chance for the break to stay away, with some lumpy climbs in the final third of the stage playing into the hands of the all-rounders.
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