Mark Cavendish has become the first Briton to win the green jersey at the Tour de France, sealing victory with a third consecutive final stage win on the Champs-Elysees, his 20th stage win in the world’s biggest cycling event.
By any measure, this is a huge achievement. In 98 races there has been only one other British winner of a jersey at the Tour de France; Scotland’s Robert Millar, who claimed the King of the Mountains polka-dot jersey in 1984.
The much respected British rider David Millar, who finished 76th in this year’s Tour, put Cavendish’s achievements into perspective; ‘At the moment, he’s the UK’s greatest athlete. He is probably the greatest sprinter in the history of cycling. The UK needs to understand we have one of the greatest of all time.’
As Cavendish is always first to acknowledge, he was helped through-out the tour by his entire team, in particular the lead-out train driven along by Matt Goss, Bernie Eisel and Mark Renshaw.
‘I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a group of team-mates who have been committed to me winning races and it has paid off.’
‘This is absolutely my best Tour de France yet. Okay, I won six stages in 2009 but I didn’t get the green jersey. I wanted it this year. I won five stages and the team got a sixth with Tony Martin and I’ve got the green jersey, so this tops off any result before.’
Five-time Tour de France winner Sean Kelly, the Irishman who won the green jersey in the 1980s, also complimented the Manx Missile, saying: ‘It’s incredible in such a short number of starts in the Tour de France to have 20 stage wins. It’s a huge record he has chalked up already. Going forward he should be able to match Eddie Merckx’s all-time record number of 32 stage wins.’