The Wolfpack did a great job again for the points classification leader, who arrived home safely after another wearing day.
The penultimate mountain stage of the race had three tough climbs crammed inside the final 70 kilometers – Col de Peyresourde (13.2km, 7%), Col de Val Louron-Azet (7.4km, 8.3%) and Col de Portet (16km, 8.7%) – which meant that for the most of the peloton it was again about making it to the finish within the time limit.
While at the front Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) emerged from a small group to take the win, the gruppetto had its own mission. Having been involved in the fight for points at the intermediate sprint in Bagnères-de-Luchon just before the start of the first ascent, Mark Cavendish relied again on his extraordinary Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates for the trio of Pyrenean climbs.
Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns and Michael Mørkøv all rallied around him as the road went up and paced Mark perfectly on Wednesday’s gruelling slopes without going into the red at any moment.
The Manxman arrived at the top of the Col de Portet with plenty of minutes to spare and soon took to the podium to receive his 39th green jersey. With just four stages to go, only one of which in the mountains, Cavendish enjoys an advantage of over 30 points over his nearest opponent in the classification.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images