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At Tour, Cavendish Edges Toward Legends

Marseille, France — Mark Cavendish will never be the greatest Tour de France rider, because he will never win the race five times like Eddy Merkcx of Belgium and Frenchman Bernard Hinault. Still, the sprinter with thighs like thick hams could outdo both those legends — by winning more stages at cycling’s premier race.

By Cavendish’s warp-speed standards, his 24th stage win yesterday was a ride in the park. The teammates who led Cavendish to the finish, sucking him along in their wheels, building up his speed, were toiling like clockwork. Stamping on his pedals, head down, thighs pumping like pistons, Cavendish then whooshed off alone for the last 150 meters, leaving everyone else in his wake.

Cavendish was carrying so much momentum and this win in Marseille, France’s second-largest city, was so comfortable that he was able to sit up in the saddle and make a hand motion like cracking a whip as he crossed the line.

One more stage win will tie Cavendish with Andre Leducq, the Frenchman who got 25 stage wins in the 1920s and 1930s, putting him third on the all-time list. Beyond Leducq is Hinault, who notched up 28 wins in the 1970s and ’80s. Merckx’s monument is 34, won from 1969 to 1975. Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain also won five Tours, but didn’t win as many stages as Hinault and Merckx. Anquetil won 16; Indurain got 12. All seven of Lance Armstrong’s Tour wins were stripped for doping.

Cavendish says he isn’t fixated on Hinault or Merckx’s numbers. He notes that for many riders, winning just one stage — let alone the 11 he needs to draw level with Merckx — is a career-defining feat.

“You have to show the Tour de France the respect it deserves,” he said.

NHL Hockey

Coyotes on Solid Ground

Glendale, Ariz. — The Phoenix Coyotes have spent the past four years living with the financial restraints of being run by the NHL, making the best of the limited resources before them.

After Tuesday night’s Glendale City Council vote in favor of an arena lease agreement with a prospective team owner, the Coyotes will finally be on even financial footing with the rest of the league.

“The only way you can win long-term is to have a strong ownership,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. “Now that we have an ownership in place, it gives us a chance, gives us a little more of a chance to show that we know what we’re doing.”

The Coyotes had been searching for an owner since Jerry Moyes took the team into bankruptcy in 2009. After numerous false starts with potential owners and constant rumors of relocation, the Coyotes found a perfect suitor in Renaissance Sports and Entertainment.

RSE, headed by George Gosbee, Anthony LeBlanc and Daryl Jones, reached an agreement to buy the team in May, a deal contingent upon reaching a lease agreement for Jobing.com Arena with the city of Glendale.

After a month of contentious negotiations that went through dramatic fluctuations over the final week, the lease agreement went to a vote Tuesday night with the outcome still very much in doubt.

After some tense debate and a few concessions on both sides, the 15-year, $225 million lease agreement was approved by a vote of 4-3, setting off an enthusiastic round of thumbs-ups from the crowd in the chambers — Mayor Jerry Weiers said clapping and cheering was not allowed — and a huge sigh of relief from the Coyotes, their prospective new owners and their fans.

Rowing

3 American Boats
Win Openers at Henley

Henley, England — American teams celebrated victories in the Temple Cup on the first day of the prestigious Henley Regatta, held annually on the River Thames near London.

Four of the six U.S. boats won in the competition for student eights. Columbia University had the first American crew in the water and set the tone by beating a composite crew from Cambridge University’s Caius and Lady Margaret Boat Clubs by half a length.

Three convincing victories — by four lengths or more — soon followed as Harvard beat Imperial College School of Medicine, Trinity College, Hartford “A” beat a composite crew from Worcester College and Hertford College, Oxford, and Virginia defeated Warwick.

However, in the same event, Grand Valley State University from Allendale, Mich., lost to Oxford Brookes University by two-thirds of a length, while Trinity College, Hartford “B”, lost by 3 1/4 lengths to a Dutch boat.