Mark Cavendish, the boy racer, took the high speed Columbia train to Brignoles and they delivered him perfectly. They dropped him 250 meters from the line where he immediately went turbo and destroyed the field. Perpetual second place Tyler Farrar (Garmin) was unable to come off his wheel. Big smiles, lots of hugs for everyone in the Columbia train, a stage win and the green jersey. Nice day of work for the 24 year old with his own autobiography.
With 2 kilometers to go we had a veritable train show: Milram, Garmin, BBox, Quick Step, Cervelo and Columbia jockeying for position. The frenzy of a tour sprint stage and fresh legs made for a wild run-in to Brignoles. An Euskatel rider went down, forcing half the peleton to slam brakes, killing the chances of riders including Tom Boonen. Besides Farrar, only Romain Feillu (Agributel) could even stay in Cavendish’s slipstream. Who needs a GC rider when you’ve got a sprinter who can win 5 stages in the tour?
There is no strategy to beat Cavendish, no weak-points, no blindspots. Any hope of getting the best of Cavendish will have to be creative. Perhaps sneezing a flu bug on his pasta dinner or slipping an Ambien in his water bottle. Cavendish may need an extra weight penalty like they do in horse racing. Tyler Farrar studies Buddhism so he’s going to have to work on non-attachment — there’s no way he’s going to reach his goal of a stage win.
Other ideas? Hand out fake stage route maps to the entire Columbia team. Train a dog to run in front of his bike in the last 100 meters. No food at the feed zone. Put a loud mariachi band outside his hotel so he never gets any sleep. Does anyone have any ideas how to beat Mark Cavendish? Because none of the other sprinters do.