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Columbia carries Cavendish to second stage victory

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A happy Cav proved the strongest

A happy Cav proved the strongest
(Image credit: AFP)
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Riccò at the rolling hospital

Riccò at the rolling hospital
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Kirchen in yellow was well protected, but even helped pulling in the end

Kirchen in yellow was well protected, but even helped pulling in the end
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) takes a drink during his break

Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) takes a drink during his break
(Image credit: AFP)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) was not happy with the rain

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) was not happy with the rain
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Liquigas raced hard to try to get race-related questions again, but that will be difficult

Liquigas raced hard to try to get race-related questions again, but that will be difficult
(Image credit: Gregor Brown)
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Former pro Cédric Vasseur was in the start village as well

Former pro Cédric Vasseur was in the start village as well
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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It's all blue at the front as Cavendish wins ahead of team-mate Ciolek. Zabel (l) and Förster (hidden) were in the top six.

It's all blue at the front as Cavendish wins ahead of team-mate Ciolek. Zabel (l) and Förster (hidden) were in the top six.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Mark Cavendish (Columbia) takes out the second win.

Mark Cavendish (Columbia) takes out the second win.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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A happy Cav proved the strongest in the rain.

A happy Cav proved the strongest in the rain.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Number two for Cav

Number two for Cav
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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It was a wet day out there.

It was a wet day out there.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Kirchen in yellow was well protected by his team-mates.

Kirchen in yellow was well protected by his team-mates.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Columbia passes a scenic bridge ahead of the bunch.

Columbia passes a scenic bridge ahead of the bunch.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) takes a drink during his solo effort.

Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) takes a drink during his solo effort.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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De La Fuente was optimistic to defend his jersey.

De La Fuente was optimistic to defend his jersey.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) relaxed before the start.

Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) relaxed before the start.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) at the start.

Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) at the start.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) was eager to defend his polka dot jersey.

David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) was eager to defend his polka dot jersey.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego climbs on his machine

Cunego climbs on his machine
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego waits for the start flag to drop.

Cunego waits for the start flag to drop.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) deep in thought before stage eight.

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) deep in thought before stage eight.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Evans thought a repeat of yesterday and its hectic racing was possible.

Evans thought a repeat of yesterday and its hectic racing was possible.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The early jumping to get breaks established.

The early jumping to get breaks established.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Almost all the teams were represented in the early efforts to get a break going.

Almost all the teams were represented in the early efforts to get a break going.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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George Hincapie is always close to team leader Kim Kirchen.

George Hincapie is always close to team leader Kim Kirchen.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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George Hincapie (Columbia) radios in for instructions.

George Hincapie (Columbia) radios in for instructions.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The break of the day rolling past sun flower fields, but there was no sun today.

The break of the day rolling past sun flower fields, but there was no sun today.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A wet summer in France between the wheat and the sun flower fields.

A wet summer in France between the wheat and the sun flower fields.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) getting his feed safely, as he was in the break.

Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) getting his feed safely, as he was in the break.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Rubén Pérez with a puncture

Rubén Pérez with a puncture
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robert Hunter (Barloworld) needed a rain cape just like the other dudes.

Robert Hunter (Barloworld) needed a rain cape just like the other dudes.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Baden Cooke (Barloworld) rolls over wet roads

Baden Cooke (Barloworld) rolls over wet roads
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Saunier Duval does a team time trial to get Riccardo Riccò back into the peloton after his crash.

Saunier Duval does a team time trial to get Riccardo Riccò back into the peloton after his crash.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Christophe Le Mevel (Crédit Agricole) leads a small break

Christophe Le Mevel (Crédit Agricole) leads a small break
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cavendish takes the win

Cavendish takes the win
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Riccò looked in pain after a spill in a roundabout.

Riccò looked in pain after a spill in a roundabout.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Riccò not a happy camper

Riccò not a happy camper
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) gets treated from the Tour doctor.

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) gets treated from the Tour doctor.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Riccò hangs on to the doc's car while getting treatment for his crash injuries.

Riccò hangs on to the doc's car while getting treatment for his crash injuries.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ouch! The pain from the crash hurts just as much as the disinfectant.

Ouch! The pain from the crash hurts just as much as the disinfectant.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Riccò at the rolling hospital

Riccò at the rolling hospital
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A soft touch on the knee can work wonders.

A soft touch on the knee can work wonders.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) is not happy with the weather.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) is not happy with the weather.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego rides in the rain

Cunego rides in the rain
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mark Cavendish (Columbia) takes out the win in a rainy finish.

Mark Cavendish (Columbia) takes out the win in a rainy finish.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cavendish got his second stage win.

Cavendish got his second stage win.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cav is the only who smiles while the sprinters look dejected, including his team-mate Ciolek.

Cav is the only who smiles while the sprinters look dejected, including his team-mate Ciolek.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) rolls to the finish.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) rolls to the finish.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The mood is good these days in team Columbia.

The mood is good these days in team Columbia.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cav takes number two

Cav takes number two
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Kirchen's yellow dream continues.

Kirchen's yellow dream continues.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Kirchen gets another yellow jersey

Kirchen gets another yellow jersey
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bernard Hinault is le patron on the podium.

Bernard Hinault is le patron on the podium.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) celebrates

David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) celebrates
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Scott) checks in with the team after the finish.

Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Scott) checks in with the team after the finish.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Kirchen after the wet stage

Kirchen after the wet stage
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Castles aren't uncommon here

Castles aren't uncommon here
(Image credit: le patron)
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The neutral start

The neutral start
(Image credit: le patron)
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Reading up on the news

Reading up on the news
(Image credit: le patron)
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Art on the Tour

Art on the Tour
(Image credit: le patron)
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Liquigas in high demand

Liquigas in high demand
(Image credit: le patron)
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The Liquigas management had lots of explaining to do

The Liquigas management had lots of explaining to do
(Image credit: le patron)
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The press was all over Liquigas

The press was all over Liquigas
(Image credit: le patron)
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Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) sums up the day

Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) sums up the day
(Image credit: le patron)
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A local painter shows off his work.

A local painter shows off his work.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Vasseur and Miss Sport Belgium share some training details.

Vasseur and Miss Sport Belgium share some training details.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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'The Tour forever'

'The Tour forever'
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Bernhard Kohl is thinking about the day ahead in the rain.

Bernhard Kohl is thinking about the day ahead in the rain.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) rolls up to the start.

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) rolls up to the start.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) gets ready for the wet battle.

Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) gets ready for the wet battle.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Fabian Cancellara and Kurt-Asle Arvesen unwrap their early Christmas presents.

Fabian Cancellara and Kurt-Asle Arvesen unwrap their early Christmas presents.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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De La Fuente shares a laugh and that's easy, having the polka dot.

De La Fuente shares a laugh and that's easy, having the polka dot.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) gets ready to defend his mountains lead.

David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) gets ready to defend his mountains lead.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Julian Dean is wondering why the Tour doesn't have more sprint finishes this year.

Julian Dean is wondering why the Tour doesn't have more sprint finishes this year.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Hey! Did you just let air out of my tyre???

Hey! Did you just let air out of my tyre???
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Riders waiting for the start

Riders waiting for the start
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) figured that in the neutral section the helmet rule doesn't apply. Every opportunity to save his hair from getting smashed.

Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) figured that in the neutral section the helmet rule doesn't apply. Every opportunity to save his hair from getting smashed.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) was all smiles despite the miserable weather.

Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) was all smiles despite the miserable weather.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Lefèvre broke away solo before being joined by three others.

Lefèvre broke away solo before being joined by three others.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Mark Cavendish (Columbia) waves to the crowd

Mark Cavendish (Columbia) waves to the crowd
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Two victories for the Manxman

Two victories for the Manxman
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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A water company provides the sprinters prize. Is that a sign in the fight against doping?

A water company provides the sprinters prize. Is that a sign in the fight against doping?
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Cavendish all smiles with his flowers

Cavendish all smiles with his flowers
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Kim Kirchen (Columbia) gets another yellow jersey

Kim Kirchen (Columbia) gets another yellow jersey
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Kirchen with the lion

Kirchen with the lion
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Oscar Freire (Rabobank) took over the lead in the battle for green.

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) took over the lead in the battle for green.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Freire gets flowers and kisses

Freire gets flowers and kisses
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Triple green on the podium

Triple green on the podium
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) on the podium

David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) on the podium
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Kisses for the polka dot man

Kisses for the polka dot man
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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De La Fuente extended his one point lead today

De La Fuente extended his one point lead today
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia) is the best youngster

Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia) is the best youngster
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) was the most aggressive rider of the day.

Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) was the most aggressive rider of the day.
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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...which also earned him a kiss

...which also earned him a kiss
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Lefèvre celebrates

Lefèvre celebrates
(Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)

USA team celebrates with second stage and Kirchen's race lead

Team Columbia ushered its sprint captain Mark Cavendish over the rain-soaked roads of Toulouse and to a second stage win in the 95th Tour de France. German team-mate Gerald Ciolek powered on after his lead-out to claim second over Frenchman Jimmy Casper.

"For Ciolek to finish second was beautiful," described Cavendish, 23 years old from the Isle of Man.

Not only did 'The Manx Express' have the help of Ciolek, but also team-mate and race leader Kim Kirchen. The 30 year-old Luxemburger pulled double-duty leading to Boulevard Lascrosses by helping Cavendish and keeping safe in the race leader's top.

With the last two of the four escapees hanging on by seconds, the day into France's southwestern département of Haute-Garonne was destined for a sprint win. Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) and Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) were left for the peloton's picking with 13 kilometres remaining and only nine seconds separated Spaniard Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Frenchman Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) with five kilometres to go in the 172.5-kilometre stage.

"When I am away it always comes back," said Pineau. "I thought the escape could work until the last four kilometres. ... I will continue to attack every chance I can."

Liquigas and Crédit Agricole turned the screws on Pineau and company in the final 20 kilometres for its captains Francesco Chicchi and Thor Hushovd. The reins changed hands in the final four kilometres to Quick Step and Columbia. Led by Marcus Burghardt, Columbia finished off the escape at 3500 metres out. Belgian's Quick Step followed with a brief surge for Gert Steegmans.

"We did a lead-out for Mark by taking over at five kilometres before the finish. Everyone did their job really well. It is amazing with two stage wins and the yellow jersey," described Burghardt, the 2007 winner of Gent-Wevelgem. His lead-out was followed by Thomas Lövkvist, George Hincapie, Kirchen and Gerald Ciolek.

Lövkvist took over from Burghardt at 2200 metres, along the Rue de Lyon. Havoc plagued the Columbia train entering a right-hand turn and the final kilometre. Quick Step took control with Jimmy Casper (Agritubel) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) moving into third and fourth slot

"It was a really tight corner to the right," said Cavendish of the turn that started the last 1000 metres. "I did not panic, although I lost the wheel of Ciolek. He was three places ahead of me, but it was not a problem. I could move up and when he accelerated I had a perfect lead-out."

Freire held on for fourth over Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner), Erik Zabel (Team Milram), Steegmans, Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux), Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) and Robert Hunter (Barloworld).

"The last corner I lost seven metres and then I was no good for the sprint. I tried but it was impossible," said Spain's Freire, who took over the lead of the maillot vert from Kirchen.

Norwegian Hushovd, winner of the stage to Saint Brieuc, slipped ahead of his lead-out Mark Renshaw during the final kilometre. "It was a very fast sprint on slippery roads," Hushovd described. "I felt good throughout stage, but eventually I lacked the force to launch the sprint."

How it unfolded

170 riders started the day after stage seven brought a few DNFs, one rider not making the time cut and one arrested on suspicion of doping. Unlike the previous days there was no intermittent rain or showers; instead, it rained from start to finish.

The action started quickly although Will Frischkorn (Team Garmin-Chipotle) was again denied to be in the move of the day. With the first climb, the côte de Loupiac, after only nine kilometres, Saunier Duval-Scott wanted to make sure that David De La Fuente would get the mountain points and he managed to do just that ahead of Simon Gerrans (Crédit Agricole) and Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

While De La Fuente sat up, Gerrans and Martínez continued off the front. But they were soon caught too and further attempts to go clear were kept in check by an attentive peloton. It wasn't until after more than 35 kilometres when Stéphane Goubert (AG2R La Mondiale) and Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) got ahead in a promising move. Soon it was Lefèvre by himself, and he crossed the côte de Macarou solo. Behind, De La Fuente added more points to his mountains tally, with Yoann Le Boulanger (Française des Jeux) taking third over the top.

Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) countered the move, followed by Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale). After 52.5 kilometres, Lefèvre was still ahead over the top of the côte de Guioni. The trio followed 1'30 later, led by Txurruka and Riblon over the top.

The gaps and the order were the same at the sprint in Salvetat-Peyrales (km 57.5) when the bunch was already almost five minutes behind.

Over the final climb of the day, the côte du Port de la Besse (km 78.5) Lefèvre was 1'40 ahead. Txurruka was leading the break again as it crested the summit. This time, Pineau was in third, ahead of Riblon, who still got one point for the category three climb.

After 80 kilometres the break came within half a minute of Lefèvre, who had decided to wait. The junction was made at kilometre 83. The peloton kept its gap at around five minutes.

The sprint in Carmaux after 85 kilometres was taken by Riblon, ahead of Lefèvre and Txurruka. With more than 100 kilometres already raced in the rain, Riblon had had enough of his tubulars. He changed his back wheel to one with a clincher tire. Then, the peloton took the opportunity for a mass nature break, so the gap stayed fairly constant, at a good five minutes.

At 57 kilometres form the finish, Crédit Agricole decided to assist Columbia in the chase. Crédit Agricole was hoping to have Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) win the stage and stay in contention for the green jersey.

With 49 kilometres to go, a roundabout spelled trouble for some riders, who slipped when they entered into it. Jens Voigt (CSC-Saxo Bank) was one of the victims, but he calmly collected his bottles and went on. Gerald Ciolek (Columbia) also was back up quickly. However, Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott), took a long time to get going. He rode slowly for some time before picking up speed again.

The break's gap shrunk to 2'15.

Lefèvre won the last sprint in Rabastens, after 134.5 kilometres, ahead of Txurruka and Pineau.

With 33 kilometres to go and the break almost visible from the main peloton, Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) went clear, but were soon recaptured. The ever aggressive Niki Terpstra (Team Milram) was the next to give it a go. He came within 17 seconds of the break before realizing that the move wasn't going to work.

The bunch cut the gap to the quartet in front to less than a minute in the meantime, with rain still coming down hard. The break hit the 20-kilometre to go banner still some 45 seconds behind the break.

The gap didn't go down an further as of the 15-kilometre mark. The break started to believe in its chances, but also all four believed they could do better without the others, so the attacking started. Bouygues Telecom had a good shot with two riders, and under the encouragement of Didier Rous in the team car, Pineau went clear with Txurruka.

Liquigas did a lot of work in the peloton, but couldn't get much closer. With ten kilometres to go, Lefèvre and Riblon were caught. The gap to the two leaders had shrunk to 37 seconds.

When Liquigas, Crédit Agricole, Quick Step and Gerolsteiner hit the front, the gap shrunk still more and with six kilometres to it was only 21 seconds. As the duo went under the five-kilometre to go sign, the lead was just ten seconds.

With 3.5 kilometres to go Columbia took over at the front, but was then replaced by Quick Step. Despite the wet roads, the final corner more than one kilometre from the line was safely mastered by everyone. Ciolek finished the job off for Columbia by leading out Mark Cavendish to a win.

Stage 9 - Sunday, July 13: Toulouse - Bagnères de Bigorre, 224km

The Tour will head upwards into the high passes of the Pyrenees. Leaving the city of Toulouse, the course heads south and east over a number of small hills, until it reaches Luchon where the climbing really starts. The two first category Cols de Peyresourde and Aspin are not the toughest climbs of the Tour, but both are tough enough to punish anyone who isn't on top form. A descent to the finish should make that any gaps between the contenders small.

Bagnères-de-Bigorre features on the Tour route on a regular basis, sitting as it does at the foot of the infamous Col du Tourmalet, which the race tackles in stage 10, but has only been a start or finish town nine times before. Recently, the town has tended to feature as a start town, rather than a finish. The last time was that incredible day in 2003 when Lance Armstrong took stage victory at Luz-Ardiden. He stormed away to win alone after being brought down by a spectator's bag at the foot of the final climb, the incident leading to the "did Ullrich wait?" debate that kept internet chat rooms buzzing for years afterwards.

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