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Cavendish Soars to Number Four

Photo Credit: (c)Tim De Waele

Cavendish Soars to Number Four

What’s the sweetest redemption for a sprinter who has just dragged himself up and over some of the longest, steepest mountain passes in the world? A blazing stage win under sunny French skies.

The Manx Missile launched out of a confusing and blistering bunch sprint today to seize his fourth stage win of this year’s tour.

The win marks Cav’s 14th Tour de France stage victory to date and puts him in 3rd position in the points classification competition, just 6 points behind Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) and 16 points behind Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre Farnese Vini). Unfortunately, even with a win in Paris on Sunday, both rivals would have to finish fairly far behind him in order for him to move into the lead and take the coveted green.

How it Unfolded

Today’s classic sprinter’s stage covered 198 flat kilometers (123 miles) from Salies-de-Béarn to Bordeaux. It was the last chance for the sprinters to duke it out before the finale in Paris in Sunday and HTC-Columbia went to work early on the front of the peloton to control the pace and keep an early breakaway within striking distance.

With Garmin Transition’s Tyler Farrar abandoning the race earlier this week, Hushovd, Petacchi and Cavendish were left to battle it out in Bordeaux. At 15k to go, HTC-Columbia and Lampre Farnese Vini hit the gas, pushing 70km/hr (43mph) to bring back the remaining members of the break du jour.

Up ahead, Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Doimo) jumped out of the break on a glory mission for a solo win – and nearly got his wish. The stubborn Italian managed to fend off the charging group until just 5k to go, when he was finally swallowed up. The late catch disrupted the organization of the sprinter’s teams a bit – and a surprise appearance by Team Sky at the front of the train with 3k to go created additional confusion.

Without the benefit of his usual HTC-Columbia lead-out, Cavendish took matters into his own hands, locking onto Hushovd’s wheel and finding his way into position at the front to launch his assault. Emerging from the fray, the Manx Missile made the win look almost easy, punching the pedals to open up enough of a gap to allow plenty of time to post up for the victory salute.


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