Britain’s Mark Cavendish claimed his 21st stage victory of the Tour de France on Monday following a bunch sprint to the line in stage two of this year’s edition.
The day’s ride took the peloton over 207.5 kilometres from Visé to Tournai south west of Brussels.
As the bunch came down the final stretch unusually the team sky rider found himself without his team mates to help launch him off.
As it turned out that didn’t matter as the Isle of Man rider, nicknamed the Manx Missile, cleverly manoeuvred himself out of the middle of the pack to challenge for the sprint finish.
Cavendish timed his final move to perfection as he outgunned German Andre Greipel and Australian Matthew Goss to top honours.
Meanwhile Swiss Fabian Cancellara kept himself out of trouble and finished safely in the main pack to retain the overall leader’s jersey he won in the prologue.
So a podium reminiscent of the last world championships in Copenhagen, when Cavendish also beat Goss and Greipel for gold.
The victory also made him the sixth most successful rider on the Tour in terms of stage wins – one off seven times Tour winner Lance Armstrong and French sprinter Andre Darrigade.
Cancellara held onto his seven second lead over British title contender Bradley Wiggens and French time trial champion Sylvain Chavanel ahead of the 197 kilometre stage three to Boulogne-sur-Mer, the first day on French soil after the three opening days in Belgium.