Mark Cavendish responds to doubters: I don't give a s*** what people say
Mark Cavendish's 10th Tour de France can already be declared a resounding success. The Manxman beat Marcel Kittel and fellow Brit Daniel McLay to victory at the end of stage six in Montauban on Thursday - his third stage win of this Tour.
That took the Team Dimension Data rider to 29 Tour stage wins for his career, one ahead of Bernard Hinault and five short of Eddy Merckx's record 34.
He wore the yellow jersey for the first time in his career after stage one, and has won three stages within the first six days for the first time too.
Cavendish had arrived in France with a long list of questions against his name.
Did the 31-year-old still have the beating of Kittel and Andre Greipel, who had dominated the previous three Tours?
Would his work on the track ahead of the Rio Olympics cost him on the road?
And could Dimension Data, a team which only made the step up to WorldTour level this year, be able to support him in the sprints?
But Cavendish has answered firmly with his performances so far.
"I don't really give a s**t what people say," Cavendish said bluntly when asked about his pre-Tour doubters.
"There's a reason people like that are commentating on cycling and not working as team managers. (Dimension Data principal) Doug Ryder believed in me and Deloitte believed in me and they built a team capable of doing it."
Cavendish has won here as much by out-thinking his rivals than by out-sprinting them.
The sprints have been scrappy rather than orderly, but Cavendish has put himself in the right positions to win.
His work on the track has clearly improved his strength, and that is paying off handsomely. However, that extra strength may have come at a cost in endurance - something which will become clear in the mountains.
"There are a few more sprints to go, but for now I'm happy to have won here, and to have won each in a different way," Cavendish said. "That makes it special. Now we have to see how the mountains go and see how it affects us for the rest of the sprints."
Both Hinault and Merckx were five-time Tour winners and won their stages in very different fashion to Cavendish, who has cemented his status as the greatest sprinter this great race has ever seen.
"I'm just looking at winning more," he said when asked about targeting Merckx. "It's very special but I will just carry on trying to win as many as possible."
Watch Cav win Stage 6 in a dramatic sprint finish: