Cavendish gets stage number three and green jersey in Lavaur

Mark Cavendish reasserted his dominance in the bunch sprints of the Tour de France, winning in Lavaur by a half a bike length and claiming the green jersey. He beat none other than arch-rival Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto), who pipped him at the line the previous day. Third went to this Tour's other sprint winner, Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Cervelo.

It was the 18th career Tour de France stage victory for the HTC-Highroad sprinter, and his third of this year's Tour.

All of the favourites crossed the line together in a group, causing no changes in the GC. Thomas Voeckler of Europcar easily held on to his yellow jersey for one more day, with Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) lurking behind him in second and third as the mountains approach.

Voeckler enjoyed what he knew would probably be his last day in yellow. "To be honest, I expect to lose the jersey tomorrow, but that doesn't mean I won't fight. I will try, but we'll see."

Defending the yellow jersey has been difficult on the Europcar team, which is down to eight men after Christoph Kern abandoned with tendinitis on stage 5.

"We have three riders who are in their first Tour de France, and we lost Kern at the start. He was very important for us, especially in the mountains. I still have Charteau, Rolland and Gautier for the climbs, but we really miss Kern."

HTC-Highroad led the high-speed chase in the pouring rain much of the stage, but still managed to have enough left over to set up a sprint even with losing Matt Goss, who is suffering from stomach problems, before the final lead-out.

It was HTC versus Garmin-Cervélo coming into the final 300 meters, but it was Geraint Thomas of Sky who opened the sprint in an attempt to set up Edvald Boasson Hagen for his second stage victory. But once Mark Renshaw took over with Cavendish on his wheel, it was game over for his competition. Cavendish went early, but easily held on to his lead against the charging Greipel, who was looking to pull off another upset win but had to come from sixth wheel to do so.

"When the guys ride like they did yesterday and then I don't finish the job it's hard to take. But then I go out and make sure I win," he said immediately after watching the television replay of his sprint.

"The guys were phenomenal today. There were six super strong guys up there but we rode with just two all day: Lars Bak and Danny Pate. We had to put Tejay (Van Garderen), Peter Velits and Bernie Eisel up there. We've got Martin and Velits going for GC but they worked for me."

Cavendish said he didn't know he had Greipel bearing down on him in the final 50 meters.

"I just went. I said I'd kick and when I kick I normally get a gap. I made the mistake of not hitting it hard yesterday. My danger is my acceleration and if I do that, I get a gap and can hold it.

Farrar had hoped for another win today but had to settle for third after running out of steam before the line. "With the downpour we had to race in it was really crazy. We just misjudged it a little bit and came up 100m short on the lead-out. The legs were there, it definitely felt fast. There are a few more opportunities [for a stage win]."

With just two climbs on the stage and only a total of three points maximum available, the hero of the Tour de France, Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) was able to hold onto his polka dot jersey for another day. He and fellow crash victim Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) finished at the back of the main group, still bandaged up like mummies.

Going for green

The victory also allowed Cavendish to once again pull on the green jersey, one of his goals for the Tour de France this year. He came into the stage in third place in the points classification, with 197 points to 209 for Jose Joaquin Rojas and leader Philippe Gilbert's 226 points.

However, Cavendish won the sprint from the peloton at the intermediate sprint, taking nine points, against eight for Rojas and only five for Gilbert. That set him up to take over the lead in the finale, as Gilbert was not expected to mix in the sprint.

That was how it worked out. Cavendish galloped to the finish line first, taking the 45 points for first place, with Rojas claiming only 18 back in seventh place. Gilbert finished out of the points in 66th place.

Cavendish thus claimed the points lead and the green jersey with a total of 251 points, ahead of Rojas at 235 and Gilbert at 231. Greipel lurks in fourth place with 164 points.

Wet wet wet

It was another rainy day in southern France, as one rider failed to appear at the start. John Gadret of AG2R gave his reason as fatigue.

As expected, an escape group formed and got away early. Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Lars Boom (Rabobank), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) escaped about 15km into the stage. They quickly built up enough of a lead to scare the sprinters's teams.

HTC-Highroad moved in to share the lead work with Europcar as the gap went above four minutes, and they combined to keep it around the 4:20 mark, eventually bringing it down to 3:30.

The only drama in the early and middle part of the stage came at the intermediate sprint. Mark Cavendish of HTC-Highroad slyly got on the wheel of yesterday's stage winner, Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto). The Manxman took the honours this go-round, slipping out to take the points ahead of Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar). The top points went to the six in the lead group, but Cavendish still picked up nine points. Gilbert got only five points, as he was gapped and unable to keep up with the top sprinters.

That moved Cavendish up to 206 points, only 25 behind Gilbert and put the green jersey within his reach with a win or good finish at the stage end.

More and more teams moved into share the lead work and HTC-Highroad pulled itself back as the gap came down and the finish line came closer. It also gave the GC teams the opportunity to protect their captains on the wet roads and cross winds on the descent of the day's second and final climb, the category four Cote de Puylaure.

Once that was successfully negotiated, the sprinters' teams moved back into their working position, pulling the field along through the rather ghostly woods on an exceptionally grey day.

The closer the finish came, the worse the weather got. Pouring down rain promised a potentially dangerous sprint. It took seemingly forever for HTC to pull the peloton to the escape group.

Boom attacked as the peloton neared the group with four kilometers to go, but he was merely postponing the inevitable as the others were gathered in one kilometer later, and he too was soon caught, swept away in the pouring rain.

Garmin-Cervelo took over the lead work with two kilometers to go and led the way under the flamme rouge. Sky took over the lead, but Cavendish jumped early. Greipel gave furious chase but was unable to catch the Manxman this time.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad3:46:07
2André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 1 - Cell 2
3Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 2 - Cell 2
4Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky ProcyclingRow 4 - Cell 2
6Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 7 - Cell 2
9Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 8 - Cell 2
10William Bonnet (Fra) FDJRow 9 - Cell 2
11Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJRow 10 - Cell 2
12Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 12 - Cell 2
14Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 13 - Cell 2
15Gianni Meersman (Bel) FDJRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 15 - Cell 2
17Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 16 - Cell 2
18Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-HighroadRow 17 - Cell 2
19Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 18 - Cell 2
20Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Pro Team AstanaRow 19 - Cell 2
21Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 20 - Cell 2
22Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 23 - Cell 2
25Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 24 - Cell 2
26Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard TrekRow 25 - Cell 2
27Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 27 - Cell 2
29Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard TrekRow 28 - Cell 2
30Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 29 - Cell 2
31Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 30 - Cell 2
32Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 31 - Cell 2
33Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 32 - Cell 2
34Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 34 - Cell 2
36Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-HighroadRow 35 - Cell 2
37Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 36 - Cell 2
38Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 37 - Cell 2
39Peter Velits (Svk) HTC-HighroadRow 38 - Cell 2
40Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard TrekRow 39 - Cell 2
41Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 41 - Cell 2
43Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 42 - Cell 2
44Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 43 - Cell 2
45Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La MondialeRow 44 - Cell 2
46Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 45 - Cell 2
47Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank SungardRow 46 - Cell 2
48Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Saxo Bank SungardRow 47 - Cell 2
49Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 48 - Cell 2
50Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 49 - Cell 2
51Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 50 - Cell 2
52Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 51 - Cell 2
53Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 52 - Cell 2
54Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 53 - Cell 2
55George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 54 - Cell 2
56Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky ProcyclingRow 55 - Cell 2
57Nicki Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank SungardRow 56 - Cell 2
58Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 57 - Cell 2
59José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 59 - Cell 2
61Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard TrekRow 60 - Cell 2
62Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 61 - Cell 2
63Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard TrekRow 62 - Cell 2
64Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 63 - Cell 2
65Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 64 - Cell 2
66Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 65 - Cell 2
67Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 66 - Cell 2
68Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 67 - Cell 2
69Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 68 - Cell 2
70Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 69 - Cell 2
71Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 70 - Cell 2
72Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShackRow 71 - Cell 2
73Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 72 - Cell 2
74Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 73 - Cell 2
75Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 74 - Cell 2
76Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 75 - Cell 2
77Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Leopard TrekRow 76 - Cell 2
78Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 77 - Cell 2
79Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 78 - Cell 2
80Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard TrekRow 79 - Cell 2
81Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 80 - Cell 2
82Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard TrekRow 81 - Cell 2
83Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJRow 82 - Cell 2
84Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 83 - Cell 2
85Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShackRow 85 - Cell 2
87Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 86 - Cell 2
88Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky ProcyclingRow 87 - Cell 2
89Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 88 - Cell 2
90Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank SungardRow 89 - Cell 2
91Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 90 - Cell 2
92Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 91 - Cell 2
93Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Pro Team AstanaRow 92 - Cell 2
94Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 93 - Cell 2
95Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 94 - Cell 2
96Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShackRow 95 - Cell 2
97Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 96 - Cell 2
98Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team RadioShackRow 97 - Cell 2
99Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 98 - Cell 2
100Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team RadioShackRow 99 - Cell 2
101Christian Knees (Ger) Sky ProcyclingRow 100 - Cell 2
102Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 101 - Cell 2
103Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Spa) Saxo Bank SungardRow 102 - Cell 2
104Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJRow 103 - Cell 2
105Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky ProcyclingRow 104 - Cell 2
106Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing TeamRow 105 - Cell 2
107David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
108Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Pro Team AstanaRow 107 - Cell 2
109Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel-EuskadiRow 108 - Cell 2
110Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Pro Team AstanaRow 109 - Cell 2
111Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar TeamRow 110 - Cell 2
112Egor Silin (Rus) Katusha TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
113Ben Swift (GBr) Sky ProcyclingRow 112 - Cell 2
114Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 113 - Cell 2
115Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En LigneRow 114 - Cell 2
116Mickaël Delage (Fra) FDJRow 115 - Cell 2
117David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - ISDRow 116 - Cell 2
118Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling TeamRow 117 - Cell 2
119Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling TeamRow 118 - Cell 2
120Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 119 - Cell 2
121Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 121 - Cell 2
123Joost Posthuma (Ned) Leopard TrekRow 122 - Cell 2
124Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 123 - Cell 2
125Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Lampre - ISDRow 124 - Cell 2
126David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-CerveloRow 125 - Cell 2
127Jérémie Galland (Fra) Saur - SojasunRow 126 - Cell 2