Mark Cavendish won his sixth stage on the Champs Elysees in a photo-finish. The photo was required to determine if there were any other sprinters in the race. After a close examination by judges, the answer was a definitive no.
The Manx Missile provided a slight variation in style today in Paris. The crushing win instead of the easy win. Thor Hushovd must feel like the slowest green jersey winner in tour history. Tyler Farrar will need several months with a sports psychologist to recover from his inferiority complex. The rest of the sprinters were hiding in a Parisian cafe somewhere, watching the action on TV.
In a switch of tactics, Garmin-Slipstream tried to derail the Columbia train, sending Vande Velde, Miller and Dean up front. For a few hundred meters things looked promising. Then big George Hincapie muscled in with Mark Renshaw and the outcome was assured. Cavendish finished first, lead-out man Renshaw second, the rest of the sprinters out of the picture entirely. A rider can buy illegal blood boosters but where can you pick up black-market fast-twitch fiber?
Lance Armstrong completed his astounding comeback at age 37 to join two youngsters, Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, on the podium. Though he finished 5:24 behind the winner, the Texan plans to fight for the maillot jaune next year with his new Radio Shack team. Armstrong skipped the team celebration for Contador to have dinner with his new sponsors. But for now, it’s not about the bike — “I’m ready to go home. It’s been a long three weeks as usual,” said Armstrong. “I am ready to go on vacation, for sure.”
Mark Cavendish will also book himself a nice vacation. But not the rest of his competitors — they will be taking some remedial courses in sprinting.