Cavendish spill dents aim for Tour stage-win mark

Cadel Evans of Australia, center, rides in the pack during the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 176.5 kilometers (110.3 miles) with start in Aix-en-Provence and finish in Montpellier, southern France, Thursday July 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

MONTPELLIER, France (AP) — Catching up with Andre Leducq will have to wait. Mark Cavendish’s campaign to match the Frenchman’s 25 stage wins at the Tour de France was put on hold Thursday when he crashed near the end of Stage 6 and ran out of power at the end.

Cavendish pedaled furiously, rode in a team car’s slipstream, and even bunny-hopped over a curb to catch up with the pack after crashing with about 33 kilometers to go.

Benefiting from a textbook lead-out from his Lotto-Belisol team, German sprint specialist Andre Greipel bolted ahead to win Thursday’s stage, while the “Manx Missile” finished in fourth. Cavendish said it “took a lot of energy to get back in front” after the spill, which tore his jersey and painted soot on his left arm.

Cavendish won Wednesday’s fifth stage — his 24th Tour stage win. It offered a needed boost for the Briton who admittedly has made a disappointing start to the Tour, struggling through the hills of Corsica and getting downed or delayed by crashes earlier in the three-week race.

On Twitter, Cavendish said he’d experienced “leg-burn” and “got beat in the sprint” — crediting Greipel for a nice finish. After the stage, the Tour race doctor said the 28-year-old native of the Isle of Man sustained various cuts and scrapes.

Cavendish, who will have other opportunities to win sprints before the race ends in Paris on July 21, is gunning to equal the stage-victories mark of Leducq. A rider in the 1920s and 1930s, he is third all-time in stage wins after fellow Frenchman Bernard Hinault’s 28 and the record of 34 held by Belgian great Eddy Merckx.

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