PEYRAGUDES, France, July 19, 2012 – Sprint specialists like Mark
Cavendish, Andre Greipel and Matt Goss will not be alone in waving an
enthusiastic goodbye to the tough climbs of the Tour de France.
Especially with the chance to add to, or in the case of Goss, open their
stage win tally on the race coming a day after the final day in the Pyrenees.
Stage 18 on Friday is one of the longest of this year’s race but at the end
of the 222.5 km trek from Blagnac to Brive-La-Gaillarde sits an enticing
600-metre home straight that should get the sprinters’ teams going.
Isle of Man sprinter Cavendish of Team Sky came into the 99th edition with
an impressive tally of 20 stage wins and made it 21 with victory on stage two
when he finished ahead of Greipel and Goss.
German powerhouse Greipel, who won his maiden stage in 2011, has since
added three to his growing collection winning stages four, five and 13 thanks
in large part to his formidable Lotto sprint train.
Tasmanian Goss, meanwhile, is still on the hunt. It is his
Orica-GreenEdge’s first participation on the world’s biggest bike race and the
going so far has been tough.
But after a number of close calls his team sporting director Matt White is
hoping Friday, or Sunday’s final stage ride into Paris, will help them break
“It’s either going to be a long breakaway or a bunch sprint tomorrow
(Friday),” White told AFP at the start of the 17th stage from Luchon to
“It would be nice to wrap up the three weeks with a win.”
Orica-GreenEdge will be one of several teams making sure they have their
bases covered for stage 18 by having at least one rider in any breakway, in
case it goes all the way.
Keeping men behind for Goss, however, is probably their best chance of
opening their account.
Although two small category four climbs could shake up the sprinters’
plans, they have 10 km from the top of the Lissac-sur-Couze climb to get the
chase in order.
White believes the fact they have been taking it comparatively easy in the
mountains — because they have no yellow jersey contender — could give them
“We haven’t got a team of climbers, so whether we lose seven or 17 minutes
in the mountains doesn’t matter to us,” added White. “So in that sense we’ve
probably saved a bit of energy.”
In the event Goss misses out in Brive, Sunday’s final stage to the Champs
Elysees in Paris, where Cavendish has won the past three years consecutively,
will be Orica-GreenEdge’s final chance.