Mark Cavendish sets himself up for his first Tour de France Green Jersey with yet another win
Last updated 7/18/2011 9:30:52 AM
In just four years Mark Cavendish has established himself as the greatest sprinter the Tour de France has ever seen.
Not bad for a lad from the Isle of Man who many experts believe has still to maximise his full potential.
Manxman Mark Cavendish scored his fourth win of this year's Tour and moved up to 19th place overall, with another perfect sprint to win stage 15.
He now has a 37-point lead over Jose Joaquin Rojas in the race for the green jersey and to be officially crowned king of the sprinters.
Cavendish and his team HTC-Highroad grabbed the headlines with their perfectly orchestrated finish as they took Cavendish within striking distance from which he crushed all opposition.
His impact on the biggest, most famous cycle event in the world can be seen from his individual wins where he has moved up to seventh in the all time lists.
1. Eddy Merckx (Bel) 34
2. Bernard Hinault (Fr) 28
3. Andre Leducq (Fr) 25
4. Lance Armstrong (US) 22
5. Andre Darrigade (Fr) 22
6. Nicolas Frantz (Lux) 20
7=Francois Faber (Lux) 19
7=Mark Cavendish (GB) 19
The 26-year-old's victory on the 193-km stage from Limoux to Montpellier was his 19th Tour success in just four years and, fitness permitting, he could be in the top three within two years.
The only other entrant above him from the last 25 years is the seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong, who won 22 stages between 1993 and 2005.
Cavendish is on course to take the green jersey for the first time in his career. He took 10 points in the intermediate sprint which took place with 46.5km of the stage remaining. Rojas claimed nine points and Philippe Gilbert, 71 points behind in the race, took eight.
"In the first half we worked with Europcar then in the second half we worked on our own," said Cavendish.
"The fact we got through yesterday makes it even more gratifying to win here. It was a difficult and technical finish today. The guys kept together. They're an incredible group, I'm so, so proud of them."
Cavendish has one more realistic chance of adding to his tally of four stage victories this year – and the odds are on the Manxman after winning in Paris in each of the past three years when he has taken his Tour scores to five, six and four to the chagrin of the French who don't relish the fact that a Brit is taking them on at their own game on their own roads and showing them how it is done.
It was all sewn up this time when, with 200m to go, Cavendish was guided to the front by brilliant and unselfish team-mate Mark Renshaw before taking the inside and sprinting home ahead of American Tyler Farrar and Italian Alessandro Petacchi.