Cavendish wins green thanks to Champs Elysees hat-trick

PARIS, (Reuters) – Mark Cavendish polished his  reputation as one of cycling’s best ever sprinters when he  became the first Briton to win the Tour de France green jersey  and the first man to win the classic finish on the  Champs-Elysees three times yesterday.

“Finally! I’m super happy, it did not come easy,” said the  Manxman, who had narrowly missed the points classification  winner’s jersey in the two previous years.

“The rules had changed this year, I had to work even harder.  I was tired but my team mates keep working hard and we won all  together. I was close the previous years now the goal is  achieved. I’m so moved. It’s an incredible day today,” he added.

Since the Tour has been unfolding on the most famous  Parisian avenue in 1975, no rider had won the traditional bunch  sprint near the Place de la Concorde more than twice.

The last man to have won three final stages in succession  was Belgian Eddy Merckx, the most successful cyclist ever, in  1972 when the finale was held on the Cipale track in Vincennes.

In the wheel of his HTC Highroad team mates, Cavendish beat  Norway’s Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Germany’s Andre Greipel,  taking his stage win tally over four Tours to 20.

Cavendish is now the most successful sprinter of all time in  the Tour but is also ranked sixth in terms of stages victories,  level with 1927 and 1928 champion Nicolas Frantz of Luxembourg.

The green jersey was the major objective of Cavendish at the  start of the Tour and he finally obtained it on his fourth  attempt, at the age of 26.

His closest adviser, Germany’s Erik Zabel, won the first of  his record six green jerseys at the same age.

On crossing the line, Cavendish pulled the jersey in joy to  show how dear the garment was to his heart.

The Briton again dominated bunch sprints by winning five of  them since the start in Vendee three weeks ago.

He also hung on in the mountains, surviving gruelling stages  in the Alps in which more than 80 riders including himself  finished outside the time cut but were allowed to continue.

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