Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford defended his team's tactics as Mark Cavendish was left with only the final stage to the Champs Elysees in Paris to try to win another stage.
Cavendish, who won a stage earlier in the race to take his tally to 21, lost his chance of contesting a bunch sprint when Sky and other teams failed to chase down a breakaway that went all the way at the end of stage 15 on Monday.
That reaffirmed Sky's commitment to winning the bigger prize of the yellow jersey.
With Bradley Wiggins in the lead and Kenyan-born British teammate Chris Froome second at 2min 05sec, the Londoner is on the cusp of creating Tour de France history for Britain.
Two hilly stages in the Pyrenees will be contested in succession after Tuesday's rest day.
The most likely chance for Cavendish to claim win number 22 is now Sunday's 20th and final stage to the Champs Elysees in Paris, where he has won the past three years.
"He knew what the situation was coming into it. He's a very strong team player, but he is an ambitious guy too. I think he's still got opportunities and we'll try to take those," Brailsford said.
Wiggins, meanwhile, was keen to put the dilemma into perspective, saying the fastest man on two wheels had been "fantastic these last two and a half weeks".
"He's been so committed to my cause -- to the yellow jersey -- and he's a great champion and a great friend," he said.
"Obviously there is still the stage to Paris for him and we're going to lay it down in Paris for him and try and get him the win there.
"He's also got the Olympic road race... that's his main objective this year, so it's a shame that he hasn't had the chance to race for more stage wins but in the end we've got a difficult task on our hands to try and win the yellow jersey."
Check out our FREE Interactive Speed Maps
for meetings in nine countries each and every day.