Tour de France: Mark Cavendish 'still pretty ill' despite stage five win in Marseille
Mark Cavendish revealed he was "still pretty ill" on the way to winning stage five of the Tour de France.
Last Updated: 03/07/13 6:24pm
The Omega Pharma - Quick-Step rider has been suffering bronchitis and is on medication, but shrugged the effects off to claim the 24th Tour victory of his career in Marseille with a peerless performance.
He successfully negotiated a tricky final climb and went on to win by a bike's length ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) in second and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in third.
"I'm not even at 95 per cent," Cavendish said afterwards. "I am still pretty ill. I still didn't feel great today. But with the guys committing like that, it really does give you something extra.
"To be fair, I didn't really do much. I would have massively messed up if I didn't win after the lead-out the guys gave. If i didn't win then I wasn't doing my job.
"I am super happy. It was frustrating yesterday because the pressure was still on, but now the pressure is kind of off. Normally I don't usually win till the fifth stage anyway, so it is pretty on the norm. Hopefully this has started the ball rolling."
Key to Cavendish's victory was getting over the Col de la Gineste, which summitted 12.5km from the finish line. He was helped up the slopes by his team-mates, but also called on prior experience of the ascent, having tackled it previously in the Grand Prix La Marseillaise.
He explained: "Jerome Pineau [his team-mate] told me that the final climb, an uncategorised climb, was always going to be difficult. I did it in my first ever race as a professional and when we hit it, I remembered it. I remember Jez Hunt won that day and so I knew exactly what the climb was as soon as we hit it. I knew I just had to hold on for 1.5km and it kind of levelled out."
Fellow Briton Chris Froome (Team Sky) enjoyed another trouble-free day, crossing the line safely in the peloton to consolidate seventh place in the general classification.
Aside from an innocuous fall on stage one, his Tour has so far gone to plan and the Kenyan-born rider is happy with how the race is panning out.
He said: "We are concentrating on the general classificationand our game-plan was to stay near the front and out of trouble - to try and stay ahead of most of the problems - but it seems most of the crashes these days are at the front so you have to stay awake at all times. We all managed to get through it though and we will be good to go again on Thursday.
"Edvald got the chance to stretch his legs in the final there and he came second to Cav, which is no mean feat at all considering he doesn't have a lead-out train with him or anything."