Wiggins ready to repay Cavendish
Bradley Wiggins, left, has thanked Mark Cavendish, right, for his support in the Tour de France
Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins has given his strongest hint yet that he hopes to repay the loyalty of Mark Cavendish by helping the world champion to victory in Paris and Olympic success.
Wiggins entered Tuesday's rest day with a yellow jersey advantage of two minutes five seconds over Chris Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), the nearest rival to the Team Sky pair, a further 18 seconds behind.
Despite suggestions to the contrary, Froome insists he will support Wiggins' bid for glory in Paris on Sunday, while Cavendish has transferred from prolific winning machine to willing domestique to aid Team Sky's bid for the maillot jaune.
The Manxman might have been eyeing the 158.5-kilometre 15th stage from Samatan to Pau as a possible chance to claim a 22nd Tour success, but again Wiggins' safety was the priority ahead of two days in the Pyrenees.
Now Wiggins, who hopes to become the Tour's first British winner in Paris on Sunday, has vowed to repay Cavendish's support and we could yet see the world champion being led out by the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees before the duo combine in the July 28 Olympic road race.
"Mark has been fantastic these last two-and-a-half weeks," said Wiggins, who will also ride in the London 2012 time-trial on August 1.
"He's been so committed to my cause - to the yellow jersey - and he's a great champion and a great friend.
"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 which he's been quite open about. That's his main objective this year.
"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.
"So far, he's played a big part in that. We've seen him going back for bottles and, yesterday, he tried really hard to get over that first climb with us. He's also been an absolute gentleman this week."