Tour de France

Tour sprinters gear up for fast finish on windy stage 11

Mark Cavendish has three stage wins in this Tour so far and hopes to add another notch to his victory belt.

CARCASSONNE, France (AFP) — Mark Cavendish has happy memories of Montpellier as the Tour de France’s 11th stage is set to finish there on Wednesday.

The “Manx Missile” won a sprint stage in the Mediterranean town in 2011 and he will be looking to notch yet another Tour stage victory on Wednesday.

He’s crossed the finish line first three times already at this Tour, taking his career total up to 29 stage wins, but the 31-year-old Briton is eager for more on the 162.5-kilometer mostly flat route from Carcassonne.

Following Tuesday’s 10th stage that started in Andorra, Cavendish said he was relieved to be rediscovering flatter terrain.

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There are few opportunities left for the sprinters before the peloton reaches Paris, with Cavendish saying on Monday’s rest day that he thinks there will only be two more chances.

But Wednesday’s stage will be anything but straightforward, with winds of up to 70kph expected on the route.

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In the Pyrénées, he spent time simply trying to hold on and get to the finish line inside the time limit.

But Wednesday’s stage is one where the sprinters’ teams, including Cavendish’s Dimension Data outfit, will likely take no chances with the day’s breakaway, never letting them far off the leash.

And it won’t just be about Cavendish on the road to Montpellier, where German Andre Greipel most recently won in 2013.

Lotto – Soudal’s Greipel has not had a good Tour so far this year after his four-stage-win performance at the 2015 race, which included stage 21 on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Greipel took second place to Cavendish on the third stage Angers this year, losing in a photo finish.

Like Cavendish, though, Greipel was glad to put the mountains behind him, although he particularly did not enjoy Tuesday’s stage beginning with a long climb up to the Tour’s highest point this year — the Port d’Envalira in Andorra at 2,400 meters above sea level.

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