If Mark Cavendish was a Frenchman he would be hailed as a national sports hero and demi-God. His 29th win in the Tour De France elevates him above Bernard Hinault and second only to the legendary Eddy Merckx in the all time Tour standings. This is quite some record but I doubt if it will make him Sports Personality of the Year for a number of reasons. Firstly cycling, despite the triumphs of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and team SKY lags behind football as the national sport: secondly he is a sprinter and his Tour more or less finishes by Friday when the stages move to the Pyrenees. Thirdly, cycling is regarded as a dirty sport. Some of the rivals are tarnished by doping penalties and the feeling persists that the team with the best masking agent will win.
Nonetheless the success of the Manxman must not be diminished. The sprint stage ends with a dash for the line and courage, anticipation, acceleration are all required in equal measures in that final frenzy when it as easy to knocked off the bike as to achieve victory. 29 such stages on your belt is incredible and places him in the pantheon alongside the greats. Froome, Quintana and Contador are staying away from trouble in the General Classification. Cycling is both a team and individual sport. Some rate Froome’s SKY team as the best ever entered in the Tour. They are strong in all departments – so much so that a powerful cyclist like Richue Porte saw better opportunities with an alternative team. All in the SKY team are dedicated to Froome’s yellow jersey. Now we are out of the flat lands of north-east France where 100 years ago hundreds of thousands lost their lives. The big climbs and time trials will sort out the men from the boys.