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Page last updated at 07:07 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 08:07 UK

Cavendish spurred on by criticism

TOUR DE FRANCE
Date: 4 July - 26 July
Coverage: BBC Sport website: text commentary of each stage and streamed BBC commentary of the last 90 minutes of each stage available; commentary on selected stages on BBC 5 Live sports extra


Mark Cavendish
Cavendish has won four stages of this year's Tour

Mark Cavendish insisted he will take any criticism directed his way as a compliment to the way he is riding at this year's Tour de France.

The 24-year-old regained the green jersey and equalled the British record of eight stage wins with victory in stage 11 of the Tour on Wednesday.

However, reports from an anonymous rider claimed the Manxman's "arrogance" is annoying his French rivals.

"They can't criticise my cycling, so they start this," said Cavendish.

"I've got to take it as a compliment if they've got nothing else to write about."

Wednesday's stage win was Cavendish's fourth of this year's Tour, and second in successive days.

606: DEBATE
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It also meant he leapfrogged Thor Hushovd to move top of the sprinters points category with 176 points, seven ahead of the Norwegian.

But while things are going well for Cavendish on the Tour, he admitted he was disappointed by the criticism he has received.

"I have made an effort over the winter to learn French. I'm not speaking it but I'm understanding it," he said.

"I'm able to do the interviews, to get asked the questions in French and I reply in English. I think I'm making an effort.

"But I love this country, I love this race and I have got to take it as a compliment."

French Newspaper L'Equipe ran an article the morning before Cavendish's stage 11 win which quoted an unnamed rider claiming the Briton had insulted his French rivals.

"Cavendish is racist, he's anti-French," said the rider.

But the green jersey holder shrugged off the comments.

"Someone showed me the article and I had to laugh," he said.

"It's a small article by an anonymous writer and with comments from an anonymous rider.

"I love to come here and I love to come here and race. For sure I'm going to have a go at some lad - because I'm like that.

"But their nationality, and what they look like or where they come from is irrelevant."

Cavendish could break Barry Hoban's British record on Thursday if he manages to record a stage win at the end of a 211.5km trek from Tonnerre to Vittel.

The sprinter said he could win as many as four more stages on this year's Tour, although he admitted his main target is the Tour finale along the Champs Elysees on 26 July.

"There's only one that matters for me now and I think you all know what that is," said Cavendish.



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see also
Cavendish joins British Tour legends
27 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish equals record with win
15 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish surges to third victory
14 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France week two photos
17 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Superb Cavendish triumphs again
06 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish storms to stage victory
05 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Understanding the Tour de France
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling


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