06/29/2021 at 7:20 PM CEST
To the west of Mont Saint Michel Mark Cavendish enhanced his stamp of cycling myth a little more. The tears and emotions that Mathieu van der Poel caused on Sunday when he paid tribute to his grandfather Raymond Poulidor in yellow returned. It was Cav cuddling with his companions, Julian Alaphilippe, the first, before sitting on a sidewalk in the fortified Breton town of Fougères, where he had already won six years ago, and burst into tears. It was his 31st victory, just three from the absolute record held, of course, by Eddy Merckx.
Cavendish arrived at the exit of Redon with an angry face, like so many other squad mates. He had fallen the day before, in a day turned into drama. It was time to prepare statements of protest, to delay the departure for a minute, of getting off at kilometer one and traveling the first 10 at a cyclotourist pace, as if they were the protagonists of Verano Azul.
He was also leaving, as he defined himself, you never have to lose your sense of humor, “the mummy” of the Tour. The mummy was Primoz Roglic with bandages on his ass, legs, back, arms, we go everywhere on the body except the head. And so many and so many victims of an infamous, cursed and even criminal stage; a day to forget.
Cavendish, 36, an old dog, knew better than to waste energy. For a day the road was wide and nobody wanted to mess it up, not even the wildest, and he has always been one of them, because for something he is from the Isle of Man, famous for hosting one of the most dangerous motorcycle races on the planet.
And he played it, like so many others, because the young Belgian Brent van Moer, from the generation of 98, like Tadej Pogacar, decided to resist, to make Cavendish’s party bitter., so much so that they could only capture him when he was 180 meters from the goal. Horrible to get caught when you can almost touch the finish line with your hands. It was the other image of the day after finishing the stage, that of desolation, that of the Belgian Lotto teammates consoling the captured cyclist, after having attacked at the time the anti-fall protest ended.
When Cavendish passed him, enraged, at 60 per hour, seeing himself as the winner again on the Tour, the advertising letters on his jersey almost fell off. Surely it even destabilized it by the force of the wind, due to the fury moving the pedals of a runner who has already surpassed 150 victories and who was world champion in 2011.
A year ago, with cycling still stopped by the pandemic, Cavendish was bummed. He already looked like a runner from the past, the one who in England was as famous as Brad Wiggins and Chris Froome. He wanted to retire but Patrick Lefevere, the manager of Deceuninck, offered him a contract and even took him to the Tour at the last minute believing in him.
The time trial
Without falls, with the happiness of Cavendish, with Britain in the memory, already in the Loire lands, Enric Mas, seventh overall, trusts himself like never before. “I think I’m going to do a good time trial although this year it’s costing me a bit more.” For now, he has not failed and there he is a second from a Tadej Pogacar who tomorrow, why not, can already wear the yellow jersey. TO CavendishHe certainly doesn’t care.