July 24, 2011 – Mark Cavendish became only the second Briton to step on to the Tour de France podium after securing the green jersey with his fifth stage win of this year’s race on the final day Sunday.
Robert Millar, from Scotland, made history when he won the race’s polka dot jersey in 1984, when he also finished a British-best fourth overall.
While Millar’s fourth place finish was equalled by Londoner Bradley Wiggins in 2009, Cavendish becomes the first ever Briton to win the green jersey.
Although coveted by the sprinters, it rewards the rider who dominates the competition for points, which can be pocketed at intermediate sprints and the finish line of most stages.
Cavendish, who narrowly missed winning the prize the past two years, made it his objective this year and secured it comfortably after dominating the field for the third successive year on the Champs Elysees.
“It’s an incredibly emotional day for me. It’s the third time I’ve won on the Champs Elysees and it’s a massive honour,” said Cavendish, who now has 20 stage wins from five participations.
“I’m wearing the jersey on behalf of eight other incredible guys. Nine of us rode together on this Tour de France. We’ve had to work incredibly hard for this jersey, winning six stages on the way.”
While Cavendish won five stages, German teammate Tony Martin won the penultimate stage time trial on Saturday.
After a dramatic few days in the mountains, when organisers decided not to throw him and dozens of other non-climbers off the race after they twice missed the stage cut-off time, Cavendish took a 15-point lead over Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas into the final stage over 95 km from Creteil to Paris.
Despite Movistar threatening to challenge on the final day, the Spanish outfit were nowhere to be seen when HTC-Highroad wound up the pace in the finale before Cavendish launched a winning sprint with 200 metres to go.
Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen of Team Sky was second with German rival Andre Greipel of Omega-Pharma in third. Rojas finished outside of the stage’s top ten.
Cavendish, who has been tipped to join Team Sky at the end of the season, refused to answer any questions regarding rumours of a move.
But he did admit he had a scare in the first week of the race and struggled through the Pyrenees.
“As usual, I can’t really say anything at the time because competitors will take advantage of it, but I had intestinal problems in the first week,” he added.
Asked about possible low points in the Alps this week, he said: “No, In the Pyrenees I did though. The Alps are not so steep and there are better roads.”
If the rumours are to be believed Cavendish will join another team in a big money move at the end of the season. Despite the huge talent on their roster, Highroad are currently battling to find a new sponsor to replace HTC.
Cavendish added: “An incredible group of guys got me through this Tour. It was tough but I’m super, super proud.”