Cavendish goes long to claim third stage

Hushovd, Farrar could not get the jump on Columbia star

The battle for green is turning red-hot.

At the start stage of the 10th stage in Limoges, maillot vert Thor Hushovd appeared to be growing in confidence, possibly thinking another green jersey is just around the corner.

But without the dedicated lead-out train that Mark Cavendish commands from his Columbia-HTC posse, Hushovd's job in stage finishes is invariably made more difficult. And when that train combines with the Manxman's unmatched finishing speed as it did Tuesday in Issoudun, Hushovd and Garmin-Slipstream's Tyler Farrar were relegated to their all-too-familiar positions, Cavendish seems to have delivered an unspoken message: The green jersey is not yours. It's mine.

Said Cavendish of the last 500 metres, "There was a slight incline and with the corners, we knew we had to be at the front. George [Hincapie] went and then Mark [Renshaw] went. I was afraid of being jumped, like [Alessandro] Petacchi did [to me] at the Giro. My saying now is, '[If] in doubt, hit out'. I hit out early."

Clearly, Cavendish is coming of age. Previously believed to lack the endurance to contest sprints at the end of long one-day races or three-week tours, his stunning victory in the March classic Milano-Sanremo was the first indication that the 24-year-old had grown stronger. Again at the Centenary Giro d'Italia, he displayed a newfound ability to go long and still go fast, the last of his hat-trick of wins coming at the end of the second week.

And now, coming into the back-half of the 21-stage, 3,459.5-kilometre loop around France, Cavendish, after a brief lull, seems to have kicked again.

Asked if there are less opportunities than previous years, Cavendish said, "I don't think so. I targeted seven days here, maybe eight. That is quite a lot. I was pretty excited when I was at the unveiling of the Tour route this year. It is a tough parcours... This year is good for me and other pure sprinters."

As he pulled the maillot vert across his shoulders, Hushovd - still the points leader but now by a margin of four - appeared decidedly edgy.

It wasn't the natural, emphatic smile of the stage winner we saw in Barcelona five days ago. It was the shaky, forced grin one has to make when standing on the Tour de France podium. And while speaking to French television at the post-stage press conference, the Norwegian watched the replay in front of him with the intensity of an air-traffic controller during a snowstorm: staring intently at the screen, analysing the final 500 metres over and over, asking himself if there was anything - anything at all - he could've done differently. His facial expression said "no". Not a thing.

"He was very, very fast. His team was very, very strong," were Hushovd's first words. What else could he say?

The Cavendish-Hushovd dynamic is not dissimilar to the ding-dong battle between Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel in the decade past, where between them, nine green jerseys are stacked in their wardrobes.

Like Cavendish, McEwen was faster than Zabel, but like Hushovd, Zabel was slightly stronger (particularly in the mountains), a little cagier and more calculating. Now, with just six points separating the pair and possibly three more stages to come before the next mountain leg to Verbier this Saturday, the Thunder God will need to be as strong, cagey, and calculating as he's ever been.

Mellow day for yellow, but a subtle change to the leaderboard

Maillot jaune Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R), despite not having the aid of his radio earpiece like the his other 170 colleagues in the peloton, enjoyed a day without incident. So trouble-free, in fact, that the 31-year-old said it was his easiest day in yellow so far. And if things go to plan, the Italian could well have it for another three more.

"It was a good day, a lot calmer than the last two stages," said Nocentini. "It's very emotional and it's a great feeling to have it on my shoulders. There are still two flat stages to come, so that should be okay, but Friday will be a lot tougher. Still, I hope to have the jersey on my shoulders Friday evening."

Astana's Levi Leipheimer and Garmin-Slipstream's Bradley Wiggins weren't as fortunate. They were among a group of 106 riders caught out in the mayhem of the finale and ended up 15 seconds down on the first group of 52. Consequently, it's seen a subtle change in the top 10, Leipheimer and Wiggins dropping to fifth and seventh on the general classification, with Andreas Klöden (Astana) and Tony Martin (Columbia-HTC) now sitting fourth and sixth, respectively.

At the gates of the Limousin countryside

From Limoges, a medium-sized and rather cosmopolitan town in central France boasting 51 square metres of greenery per resident, a peloton of 171 departed at 12.30 p.m. sans earpieces, the first of two stages at the 2009 Tour where radio communication has been done away with (the other being Stage 13).

The 194.5-km rolling profile had bunch sprint finish written all over it, but a breakaway quartet that included three Frenchmen attempted to do their country proud on Bastille Day, Thierry Hupond (Skil-Shimano), Benoit Vaurengard (Francaise des Jeux), Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) and Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) the ones that got away. Following a number of successful escapes in recent days, the peloton was keeping a tight lid on proceedings, although they gave the illusion they weren't riding particularly hard. After 60km, the gap was just two-and-a-half minutes, which also may have had something to do with Ignatiev, the only non-Frenchman in the move doing just two percent of the workload up front.

The overcast conditions experienced at the start continued throughout the afternoon, the break's advantage holding steady after 100km covered, and after three hours, raced at a 37.7 km/h average. However, it was more because of a crash in the bunch than the strength of the lead quartet. Saxo Bank's Kurt Asle Arvesen came off worst, suspected to have a broken left collarbone.

The ol' fashioned chalkboard may have replaced information coming through race radio, but it did nothing for the break's chances. It appeared to be riding under a cloud of impending doom. Naturally, Columbia-HTC, knowing full well they needed to deliver Cavendish another stage victory to stand a chance against current points leader Thor Hushovd, motioned their forces to the fore in the closing kilometres.

And for the third time in 10 days, Cavendish's coterie of Trojan horses timed their chase to perfection, catching Hupond, the last of the escapees, 1.3 kilometres from the line. Hushovd, Oscar Freire and Tom Boonen were expected to thrive on the slightly uphill finish, but in the end, it suited Cav' to a T.

For images of stage 10 click here

Full Results*
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC4:46:43 
2Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team  
3Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
4Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne  
5Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
6Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
7Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano  
8William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
9Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas  
10Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
11Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram  
12Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC  
13Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence - Lotto  
14Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank  
15Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank  
16Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel  
17Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale  
18Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
19Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC  
20Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre - NGC  
21Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto  
22Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank  
23Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank  
24Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas  
25Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC  
26Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
27Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank  
28Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank  
29Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas  
30Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne  
31Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
32Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto  
33George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC  
34Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
35Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano  
36Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux  
37Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram  
38Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha  
39Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram  
40Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana  
41Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana  
42Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
43Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram  
44Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel  
45Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana  
46Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana  
47Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
48Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team  
49Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux  
50Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne  
51Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano  
52Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto  
53Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC  
54Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha  
55Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne  
56Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Slipstream  
57Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
58Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank  
59Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano  
60Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram  
61Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale  
62Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux  
63Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC  
64Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream  
65Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank  
66Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne  
67Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha  
68Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
69Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step  
70Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team  
71Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana  
72Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha  
73Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team  
74Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC  
75Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank  
76Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
77Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana  
78Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team  
79Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
80Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha  
81Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux  
82Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano  
83Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank  
84Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - NGC  
85Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram  
86Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel  
87Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
88Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC  
89Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Rabobank  
90Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - HTC  
91Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas  
92Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence - Lotto  
93José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
94Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step  
95Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux  
96Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step  
97Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step  
98Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram  
99Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC  
100Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana  
101Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - NGC  
102David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - NGC  
103Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Astana  
104Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank  
105Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel  
106Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
107Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
108Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step  
109José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo Test Team  
110Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
111Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
112Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team  
113Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Slipstream  
114Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
115Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
116Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
117Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto  
118Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence - Lotto  
119Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas  
120Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
121Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne  
122David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
123Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux  
124Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram  
125Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
126Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne  
127Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank  
128Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team  
129José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale  
130Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Silence - Lotto  
131Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre - NGC  
132Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
133Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC  
134Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
135Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha  
136Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas  
137David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne  
138Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel  
139Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step  
140Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano  
141Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
142Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas  
143Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne  
144Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Team Katusha  
145Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Française des Jeux  
146Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne  
147Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
148Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel  
149Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel  
150Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank  
151Charles Wegelius (GBr) Silence - Lotto  
152Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step  
153Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano  
154David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream  
155Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne  
156David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
157Iñigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (Spa) Cervelo Test Team  
158Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
159Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano0:00:39 
160Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas0:00:41 
161Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step0:00:47 
162Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas0:01:04 
163Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream0:01:13 
164Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team Saxo Bank  
165Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
166Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram  
167Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - NGC  
168Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana0:01:35 
169Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha  
170Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:02:25 
171Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux  
Sprint 1 - Lauriere - 44.0 Km
1Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne6pts
2Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano4 
3Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux2 
Sprint 2 - Aigurande - 122.5 Km
1Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux6pts
2Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano4 
3Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne2 
Sprint 3 - Saint-Août - 167.5 Km
1Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano6pts
2Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux4 
3Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne2 
Finish - Issoudun - 194.5 Km
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC35pts
2Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team30 
3Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream26 
4Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne24 
5Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne22 
6Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale20 
7Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano19 
8William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom18 
9Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas17 
10Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom16 
11Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram15 
12Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC14 
13Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence - Lotto13 
14Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank12 
15Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank11 
16Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel10 
17Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale9 
18Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi8 
19Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC7 
20Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre - NGC6 
21Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto5 
22Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank4 
23Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank3 
24Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas2 
25Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC1 
Mountain 1 - Côte de Salvanet - 12.5 Km
1Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha3pts
2Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano2 
3Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux1 
Mountain 2 - Côte de Saint-Laurent-les-Eglises - 27.5 Km
1Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha3pts
2Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano2 
3Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1 
Mountain 3 - Côte de Bénévent-l'Abbaye - 58.5 Km
1Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano3pts
2Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux2 
3Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1 
Young riders
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC4:46:43 
2Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
3Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne  
4Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram  
5Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC  
6Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel  
7Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale  
8Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas  
9Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC  
10Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
11Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank  
12Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas  
13Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto  
14Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram  
15Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel  
16Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne  
17Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto  
18Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC  
19Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha  
20Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram  
21Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team  
22Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
23Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano  
24Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank  
25Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom  
26Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne  
27Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC  
28Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha  
29Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano  
30Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Française des Jeux  
31Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel  
32Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano  
33Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano0:00:39 
34Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas0:00:41 
35Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram0:01:13 
36Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha  
Most aggressive rider
1Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano  
1Bbox Bouygues Telecom14:20:09 
2Team Columbia - HTC  
3AG2R-La Mondiale  
5Silence - Lotto  
6Team Saxo Bank  
7Caisse D’Epargne  
8Lampre - N.G.C  
9Team Milram  
10Garmin - Slipstream  
13Cervelo Test Team  
14Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne  
16Euskaltel - Euskadi  
18Francaise Des Jeux  
19Team Katusha  
20Quick Step  
General classification after stage 10
1Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale39:11:04 
2Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana0:00:06 
3Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana0:00:08 
4Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana0:00:39 
5Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream0:00:46 
6Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana0:00:54 
7Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC0:01:00 
8Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream0:01:24 
9Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank0:01:49 
10Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas0:01:54 
11Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:02:16 
12Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC0:02:21 
13Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank0:02:25 
14Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas0:02:40 
15Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:45 
16Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team0:02:52 
17Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:03:02 
18Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto0:03:07 
19Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC0:03:16 
20Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha0:03:49 
21Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux0:03:58 
22Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana0:04:14 
23Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana0:04:20 
24Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram  
25Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel0:04:26 
26Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha0:05:00 
27Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank0:05:02 
28George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC0:05:25 
29Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram0:05:28 
30Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux0:06:03 
31Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:06:54 
32Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Rabobank0:06:56 
33Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank0:06:59 
34David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:07:27 
35Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:08:06 
36Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram0:08:21 
37Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto0:09:37 
38Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:09:59 
39Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:10:36 
40Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank0:11:44 
41Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Astana0:11:50 
42Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step0:12:00 
43José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo Test Team0:12:17 
44Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux0:13:52 
45Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team0:14:37 
46Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:14:56 
47Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:15:30 
48Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas0:15:53 
49José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:16:02 
50Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:16:45 
51Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:16:52 
52Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne0:17:07 
53Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:18:40 
54Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:20:13 
55Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:20:55 
56Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:21:34 
57Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank0:23:02 
58Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:23:38 
59Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel0:24:44 
60Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank0:25:03 
61Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:26:43 
62David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream0:27:18 
63Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel0:27:58 
64Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:28:03 
65Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:28:07 
66Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel0:28:08 
67Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step0:29:48 
68David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream0:29:50 
69Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team Saxo Bank0:31:01 
70Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Slipstream0:31:28 
71Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence - Lotto0:31:57 
72José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale0:32:01 
73Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step0:32:44 
74David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:32:49 
75Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha0:33:23 
76Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram0:33:28 
77Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:34:51 
78Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel0:35:02 
79Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:35:22 
80Charles Wegelius (GBr) Silence - Lotto0:35:40 
81Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - NGC0:35:43 
82Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank0:36:11 
83Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas0:36:46 
84Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank0:37:52 
85Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:39:02 
86Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:39:43 
87Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:39:54 
88Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne0:41:25 
89Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank0:41:58 
90Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team0:42:10 
91Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas0:42:35 
92Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel0:42:38 
93Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:43:48 
94Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:44:31 
95Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto0:44:45 
96Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence - Lotto0:47:25 
97David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - NGC0:48:04 
98Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha0:48:08 
99Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux0:48:57 
100Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC0:49:07 
101Iñigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (Spa) Cervelo Test Team0:50:35 
102Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:51:29 
103Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream0:52:33 
104Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:52:49 
105Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano0:53:00 
106Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence - Lotto0:54:12 
107Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team0:55:24 
108Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step0:55:45 
109Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas0:55:50 
110Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank0:56:53 
111Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Française des Jeux0:57:40 
112Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre - NGC0:57:57 
113Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram0:59:14 
114Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step0:59:34 
115Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank0:59:42 
116Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas0:59:44 
117Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC1:00:44 
118Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Team Katusha1:03:53 
119Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux1:04:01 
120Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale1:04:18 
121Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team1:04:32 
122Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank1:04:47 
123Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1:05:23 
124Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne1:07:00 
125Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha1:08:57 
126Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - NGC1:09:22 
127Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom1:10:19 
128Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux1:10:37 
129Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Slipstream1:10:38 
130Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step1:12:14 
131Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas1:12:45 
132Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha1:12:49 
133Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano1:13:01 
134Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha1:13:23 
135Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC1:13:54 
136Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC1:14:02 
137Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team1:14:04 
138Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano1:14:44 
139Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC1:15:10 
140Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana1:15:19 
141Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram1:15:32 
142Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram1:16:07 
143Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - NGC1:16:09 
144Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto1:16:47 
145Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom1:17:56 
146Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1:18:44 
147Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC1:19:10 
148Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step1:20:23 
149Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel1:20:37 
150Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram1:20:38 
151Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step1:21:41 
152Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1:21:56 
153Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas1:22:06 
154Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - HTC1:22:25 
155Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano1:22:51 
156Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano1:22:56 
157Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano1:23:04 
158Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC  
159Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom1:23:43 
160Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi1:23:52 
161Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Silence - Lotto1:24:35 
162William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom1:24:36 
163Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana1:25:21 
164Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream1:26:32 
165Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram1:27:51 
166Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano1:28:54 
167Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Slipstream1:30:55 
168Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team1:32:46 
169Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux1:33:10 
170Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre - NGC1:43:42 
171Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano1:59:32 
Points classification
1Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team147pts
2Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC141 
3Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne97 
4Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram81 
5Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream80 
6Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank73 
7Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank55 
8Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale54 
9Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel49 
10Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom47 
11Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas47 
12Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale47 
13Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne46 
14Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step46 
15Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne44 
16William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom37 
17Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano37 
18Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom36 
19Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC35 
20Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre - NGC35 
21Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana34 
22Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto34 
23Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha34 
24George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC32 
25Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel31 
26Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale31 
27Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne30 
28Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom30 
29Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi29 
30Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom29 
31Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano28 
32Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step27 
33Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne27 
34Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - NGC26 
35Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano26 
36Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC25 
37Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano25 
38Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne24 
39Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux23 
40José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne22 
41Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana22 
42Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel21 
43Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram21 
44Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram21 
45Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas20 
46Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale20 
47Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha20 
48Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram19 
49Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank18 
50Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi18 
51Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano18 
52Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi17 
53Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram17 
54Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas17 
55Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream16 
56Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana15 
57Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha15 
58Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank14 
59Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas14 
60Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha14 
61Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank14 
62Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC14 
63Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana13 
64Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale13 
65Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto13 
66Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence - Lotto13 
67Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - NGC12 
68Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux12 
69Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux12 
70Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team11 
71Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step11 
72Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano11 
73David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream10 
74Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux10 
75Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne10 
76Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale10 
77Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana9 
78Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom9 
79Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC8 
80Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel8 
81Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank7 
82Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC5 
83Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha5 
84Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step5 
85Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi5 
86Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux4 
87Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi4 
88Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas4 
89Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank4 
90Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas4 
91Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux4 
92Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram3 
93Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank3 
94Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano3 
95Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto3 
96Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step3 
97Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana2 
98Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Rabobank2 
99Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team Saxo Bank2 
100Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank1 
101Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC1 
Mountains classification
1Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi78pts
2Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne59 
3Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas55 
4Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel49 
5Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom49 
6Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale46 
7Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux43 
8Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi38 
9Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale35 
10Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale34 
11Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Rabobank32 
12Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram32 
13David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne31 
14Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom31 
15Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne26 
16Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step23 
17George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC21 
18Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi21 
19Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto20 
20José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne20 
21Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto19 
22Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha17 
23Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank17 
24Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas17 
25Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana15 
26Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne14 
27Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom14 
28Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Astana14 
29Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank13 
30Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana12 
31Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank11 
32Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana10 
33Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne10 
34Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux9 
35David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream9 
36David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream8 
37Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step8 
38Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano7 
39Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC6 
40Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux6 
41Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano6 
42Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank6 
43Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale5 
44Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel4 
45Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne4 
46Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha3 
47Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram3 
48Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux3 
49Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom2 
50Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream1 
51Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1 
52Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank1 
53Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano1 
Young rider classification
1Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC39:12:04 
2Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank0:00:49 
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas0:00:54 
4Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas0:01:40 
5Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel0:03:26 
6Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram0:04:28 
7Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:07:06 
8Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:08:59 
9Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:15:45 
10Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne0:16:07 
11Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:17:40 
12Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:27:07 
13Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram0:32:28 
14Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel0:34:02 
15Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne0:40:25 
16Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto0:43:45 
17Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC0:48:07 
18Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano0:52:00 
19Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team0:54:24 
20Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Française des Jeux0:56:40 
21Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha1:07:57 
22Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha1:11:49 
23Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha1:12:23 
24Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC1:12:54 
25Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano1:13:44 
26Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC1:14:10 
27Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram1:14:32 
28Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto1:15:47 
29Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom1:16:56 
30Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC1:18:10 
31Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel1:19:37 
32Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas1:21:06 
33Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano1:21:56 
34Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream1:25:32 
35Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram1:26:51 
36Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano1:27:54 
Teams classification
1AG2R-La Mondiale115:59:24 
3Team Columbia - HTC0:04:45 
4Team Milram0:05:20 
5Team Saxo Bank0:05:24 
6Garmin - Slipstream0:05:56 
7Caisse d'Epargne0:07:05 
8Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne0:10:00 
10Francaise Des Jeux0:12:59 
11Euskaltel - Euskadi0:13:07 
12Cervelo Test Team0:16:13 
14Bbox Bouygues Telecom0:22:05 
15Silence - Lotto0:23:15 
17Team Katusha0:27:41 
18Quick Step0:50:05 
19Lampre - N.G.C1:35:23 

* Results revised July 11, 2009 to reverse 15 second split in peloton which affected GC.

Full Specifications

Hushovd to play the tactical game

Entering Stage 10 with an 11-point buffer over previous points classification leader Mark Cavendish, Cervelo TestTeam's Thor Hushovd was a picture of calm in Limoges, despite holding a somewhat tenuous lead.

The green jersey champion of 2005 and Tour stage winner in Barcelona told Cyclingnews the next four stages will be critical if he's to consolidate his advantage over the sprinting wunderkind from the Isle of Man. "Oh, they're really important," Hushovd said of the coming days, "so I have to fight to get as many points as possible.

"Of course, I'll play the tactical game. Columbia has to work to get the jersey back, but it depends what happens [during the stage], how many guys go away, and also we [as a team] can't spend too much energy," he said, referring to the team's other objective of helping to defend Carlos Sastre's Tour de France crown, which, as the days go on, appears to be getting more remote.

Tuesday being the first stage without radio communication between rider and director, Hushovd said the absence of an earpiece doesn't really bother him, although he's against the notion of racing ‘old-school'. "It doesn't change too much. I really look towards the finale. It's more during the race, especially when groups go, to see who is up there or not. I think we should have radios, because it's a normal part of the future of cycling. But I also think it's stupid to neutralise the stage."

And while age does not always work to the benefit of a sprinter, the 31-year-old Norweigan - seven years Cavendish's senior and a veteran of as many Tours de France - tends to grow stronger as the race progresses. Remember the Champs-Élysées at the 2006 Tour and Hushovd's dominant victory against Australians Robbie McEwen and Stuart O'Grady, bookending his prologue win in Strasbourg three weeks earlier?

"I didn't go really deep in the Pyrenees, so I think I'm getting better and better, and that's important. What happens with Cavendish, I can do nothing [about], really," he said.

Hushovd's last words proved prophetic. Four-and-three-quarter hours later in Issoudun, the maillot vert didn't stand a chance against the might and power of Cavendish and his Columbia-HTC team.

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