Mark Cavendish needed a lunge at the finish to pull out the victory on Monday. (Christophe Ena / Associated…)
Mark Cavendish proved he remains the rider to beat in Tour de France sprints, winning Monday's second stage after a tight finish.
It was his 21st Tour stage victory but possibly one of the toughest, as the 27-year-old from the Isle of Man was left largely to fend for himself as his Sky team has shifted its focus to helping Bradley Wiggins become the first-ever Tour winner from Britain.
But Cavendish isn't complaining.
“It's quite nice. I came into this sprint day with really the least pressure I've ever had in a Tour stage,” said Cavendish, a favorite to win the road races at the London Olympics. “Normally in the past, I've had a full, dedicated team. Normally I win by some bike lengths. Today I had to lunge at the line, so you see that it wasn't too easy.”
Fabian Cancellara retained the overall leader's yellow jersey after the 129-mile, mostly flat ride across Belgium, followed in the standings by Wiggins seven seconds back.
More flat stages lie ahead, starting Tuesday as the Tour returns to France for a 122-mile ride from Orchies to the English Channel fishing town of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
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