Tour de France sprint finish — just like old times

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Mark Cavendish

A familiar face emerged from the dogfight approaching the finish of Stage 2 at the Tour de France on Monday.

Mark Cavendish swung out from behind the leading cyclist, former teammate Andre Greipel, then beat him to the finish line in Tournai.

In spite of the effort, he flashed a wide smile to celebrate his 21st career victory at the Tour de France.

Another familiar face led the peloton into the Tournai on the 207km (128-mile) bike race from Vise. George Hincapie (BMC) found himself setting the pace for the peloton as he cleared a safe path for teammate and defending champion Cadel Evans.

The sprinters teams took over as the cyclists neared the finish. Most notable was the train set up for Greipel by his Lotto teammates.

Many thought Cavendish would have a difficult time at this year’s Tour. His SKY teammates are protecting the yellow jersey chances of Bradley Wiggins, so they are available to provide a lead-out train like Cavendish’s former teams.

Somehow, Cavendish (Team SKY) caught Greipel’s rear wheel and let the German do the work to get them within sight of the finish line.

He later explained that he was back about a dozen riders as they approached the finish and caught sight of Oscar Freire shooting past. “I know he always goes up in the last K so I stayed with him and it was quite perfect.”

Sunday’s winner, Peter Sagan showed up near the front also, but appeared to be boxed in without a path to the front.

Following Cavendish across the line were Greipel, Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge), Tom Veelers (Argos Shimano),  Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) and Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).

Washington state’s Tyler Farrar (Garmin Sharp) finished in 10th.

The 21 stage victories at the Tour de France puts Cavendish in 6th place, following Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade who share 22 each. Belgium’s Eddy Merckx holds the record for most wins at 34.

Top 10 overall

1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling – 7 seconds behind
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 7 seconds
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team – 10 seconds
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling – 11 seconds
6. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team – 13 seconds
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team – 13 seconds
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team – 17 seconds
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale – 18 seconds
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Sharp – 18 seconds

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