Tour 2010: Stage 11

From the summit of the third-category climb of the Col de Cabre, 56km from the start in Sisteron, it was downhill or flat pretty much all the way to the finish in Bourg lès Valence, another 128km away. It was a profile that made a bunch sprint all but inevitable, and HTC-Columbia duly buried themselves again to reel in the equally predictable breakaway, and set up a third victory for their man, Mark Cavendish.
Cavendish has now won 13 Tour stages, putting him ahead of true greats Mario Cipollini, Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen (riding the Tour again this year at age 38 with Katusha) in the list of the Tour’s most prolific sprinters. That got me thinking…

GREAT STUFF?

Back in ’99
Mario arrived to sign
The start sheet
Dressed
As Caesar:
Laughed at the fine.
A real crowd-pleaser.

Six years in a row
Erik took the green maillot;
Every day
Chased
The small scores:
Hard way to go
And win the sprint wars.

Fastest of his day
Robbie rides the Tour his way.
Three times he’s
Taken
Green, and won
The Champs-Elysées
(And that’s the big one)

So, what does it mean
Now Cavendish has got 13?
He’s truly
Greater
Than these past
Heroes of the scene;
Or just he rides fast?

Sisteron-Bourg lès Valence, 184.5km
Won by Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia)
Maillot jaune: Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)

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4 thoughts on “Tour 2010: Stage 11

  1. Ah, Cipo, the great showman … A lovely reminder of him!

    What’s so amazing about Cav is how quickly he has reached 13. Despite winning six green jerseys, it took Zabel his entire career to win 12; Cipo, despite that awesome lead-out train he had, also won 12.

    Without Renshaw, I’m expecting to see some spectacular stuff from Cav now. He will rely more on sniffing out whose wheel to follow and jumping from train to train. He can definitely do that – a lot of his wins in 2007 came in this fashion, before Columbia built up that dominant team. Should be interesting.

    • Cipo and his Saeco Red Train going eyeballs-out was a sight to behold – and I was surprised Zabel had won ‘only’ 12 stages. Like you, I’m looking forward to seeing Cav find his own way to the line again – Saturday could be ‘on’.

  2. It’s always hard comparing past and present greats – different competition, different teams, different circumstances. I suppose we’ll have to make the comparison when he retires, but I think he will need a couple of green jerseys to compliment his stage wins to beat Zabel and Cipollini.

    Beautifully put, as always!

    • I guess that to some extent greatness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I know Cipo never finished a Tour and Zabel used EPO, but I can’t find it in my heart not to like them! And that’s to take nothing away from Cav, who is unquestionably the finest sprinter of the present generation. Perhaps I must finally face an unpalatable truth, and accept I actually belong to the previous one!

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