Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish sprinted to a superb victory in Stage 18 of the Tour de France.

 

With a few hundred meters remaining, the Team Sky rider broke clear of the peloton

and chased down the front runners to claim an impressive second win of this year’s

Tour.

 

Cavendish, a sprint specialist who will represent Brtain at the forthcoming Olympic

Games, has spent a lot of the Tour supporting team mate Bradley Wiggins’ attempt to

claim the overall title, but in Friday’s stage he benefited from his colleagues’ strategy.

 

Cavendish’s victory in the 222.5 km stage between Blagnac and Brive-la-Gaillarde was

his 22nd stage win at the Tour, moving him fourth in the all-time records.

 

He is now level with American Lance Armstrong and legendary French sprinter Andre

Darrigade.

 

Overall leader Bradley Wiggins finished just behind his colleague to ensure his two

minute five second lead remained intact. With two stages remaining, it would be a

major surprise if Wiggins didn’t become the first Britain to win the tour when it reaches

its conclusion on Sunday, in Paris.

 

Wiggins admitted his team mate had sacrificed himself for the yellow jersey chase, but

claimed Cavendish had “been the first to say, ‘look guys, I think the general

classification is more important today, let’s not sacrifice it by trying to bring it back for a

sprint.”

 

The first incident of the day occurred 120 km into the stage when a large dog ran onto

the course, causing a crash.

Four riders were unseated in the incident, notably Philippe Gilbert of the BMC team.

 

The former Belgian national champion took a moment to remonstrate with the dog’s

owner before climbing back onto his bike. Gilbert later received treatment during the

race from Tour medical staff.

 

Team RadioShack-Nissan rider Franck Schleck, who withdrew from this year’s Tour

after a failing a doping test, has protested his innocence after announcing that his ‘B’

sample also tested positive.

 

Luxembourger Schleck, whose brother Andy won the 2010 tour when Alberto Contador

failed a doping test, was 12th when he retired from the race.

 

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