His third stage win was down to a great team work and the 36-year-old was the first to point that out: “It was an old school, run of the mill, like you’d read in a cycling magazine, textbook lead-out. Just get the lads on the front as fast as they can so no-one can come past you.
“We knew this finish. I didn’t make it to this finish last time in 2015, I got dropped and Greipel won. We studied that. We knew if you took that last corner wide, you’d keep the speed, and actually it split in the wind.”
The strength of the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team really showed on this stage. They stayed comfortably in the front as the wind caused a split in the peloton and then delivered their sprinter in a perfect way.
“I’m just humbled. You’ve got the winner of the Tour of Flanders [Kasper Asgreen], you’ve got the world champion who’s had the yellow jersey [Julian Alaphilippe], you’ve got Michael Mørkøv who’s going to the Olympics, and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner [Davide Ballerini] leaving everything on the road for me. I had to finish it off for them. I didn’t really do anything until 150m. It was the team. I have to thank them.”
The battle for the Škoda Green Jersey continues. Colbrelli and Matthews took the first two positions at the intermediate sprint at the top of a 3km uncategorised climb. Cavendish was nowhere to be seen at that point. However, his stage win meant that he once more extended his lead in the points competition. Will he wear the Škoda Green Jersey in Paris? The Manxman is still humble.
“I don’t go for the green jersey, I go for stages and hope the green jersey comes from that. I always try and pick up points but I’m not going to put myself over the limit to do it. They’ve gotta try something, it’s bike racing, but I feel like they’ve burnt their matches doing that. My team stayed round me and got me over it. I just needed to get over that climb and I knew I’d be safe for the sprint.”