Mark Cavendish celebrates Tour stage win number 22
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Boasson Hagen a key component in another stellar day for Sky
After the heady heights of the previous two days in the Pyrenean mountains, where Bradley Wiggins all but secured the yellow jersey, the Team Sky juggernaut that has carried all before it in this Tour de France might have been forgiven for spending today’s 18th stage from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde in cruise control. But when there is a rider with the burning ambition of world champion Mark Cavendish in your ranks, there is the inclination to press harder on the gas rather than ease off it.
Cavendish produced a decisive burst of acceleration at the climax of today’s stage that will restore his name to the back pages. The Manxman has spent the last week or two in the shadows of both Wiggins’ bid for malliot jaune history and the race leader’s rivalry with teammate Chris Froome, which has captured the imagination of British fans back home and also generated much debate and head shaking amongst the world’s press assembled in France.
The shadows aren’t a natural habitat for Cavendish and his performance today will return him to the spotlight that he thrives under. His work for Wiggins and Froome on this Tour is testament to his team ethic, but there is no doubting that today marks the beginning of an eight-day period that could see Cavendish steal a considerable amount of thunder from his friend and teammate Wiggins. On Sunday Cavendish will be the favourite to win the Tour’s final bunch sprint on the glamorous tarmac of Champs-Elysees in Paris for the fourth year running, and one week from tomorrow he will again be favourite to win gold in the Olympic road race in London.
“That wasn’t easy, it was a very tough final and climbs at the end were hard,” Team Sky boss David Brailsford told Cyclingnews.
“Mark stayed right at the front all day and
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