2012 Tour De France: Mark Cavendish Reminds Everyone Why He's the Best

Craig ChristopherAnalyst IJuly 20, 2012

BRIVE-LA-GAILLARDE, FRANCE - JULY 20:  Mark Cavendish of Great Britain and SKY Procycling celebrates winning stage eighteen of the 2012 Tour de France from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde on July 20, 2012 in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Earlier this month, French sports newspaper L’Equipe named Mark Cavendish as the greatest sprinter in Tour de France history as a result of one of their polls according to the Mail Online.

Today, he proved why.

Cavendish destroyed the opposition to claim the win on the 18th stage of the Tour de France by a couple of bike lengths from Matt Goss and green jersey holder Peter Sagan.

Cavendish currently sits fourth on the points table for this Tour, a terrific effort considering that he has almost no support from a team custom-built to support Bradley Wiggins through the mountains.

Coincidentally, Cavendish also sits equal fourth on the all-time list of stage winners, equalling Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade and bettered only by Andre Leducq and legends Bernard Hinault and Eddie Merckx.

But Cavendish wasn’t the only one making a statement today.

Team leader Wiggins responded to Cavendish's request for support and gave him a tremendous lead out, pacing him at high speed for over a kilometre, as the peloton chased down the remains of the breakaway, before handing over to Edvald Boasson Hagan who took Wiggins to within 600 metres of the finish.

From there, Cavendish proved why he is considered to be the fastest sprinter on the planet and was untouchable. Sagan could only look on with envy.

It has been an interesting Tour for Cavendish.

While it was clear from a very early stage that Team Sky were not at the Tour to help him defend his green jersey from 2011, he took it in stride.

He became an opportunist, hijacking other teams' lead outs to get himself to the finish and has picked up an unlikely two stage wins and is aiming at a third on the cobblestones of the Champs Elysees—one of the most spectacular stages in world sport.

While his sprinting ability comes as no surprise to anyone, what has been surprising is his ability to ride in support of Cavendish through the mountains—even sacrificing himself as a domestique and sitting at the head of the bunch pacing his team through the easier climbs in the mountains.

Cavendish has revealed himself as a real team player in his unaccustomed role of playing second fiddle, and while it was good to see Wiggins pay back some of that loyalty that has been shown to him, today was Cavendish’s turn to take centre stage.

Watch out for him on Sunday afternoon, that’s the one he really wants.