Mark Cavendish Powers to Stage 18 Win in 2010 Tour de France Before Tomorrow's Decisive Time Trial

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07/23/2010| 0 comments
by AP, with additional commentary by Roadcycling.com
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz visited the 2010 Tour de France today to promote their new movie picture Knight and Day. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz visited the 2010 Tour de France today to promote their new movie picture Knight and Day. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Mark Cavendish Powers to Stage 18 Win in 2010 Tour de France Before Tomorrow's Decisive Time Trial

Alberto Contador (Team Astana) kept the yellow jersey after today's stage and closed in on another Tour de France title while Mark Cavendish (Team HTC-Columbia) of Great Britain again showed he's one of pro road cycling's best sprinters.

Alberto Contador (Team Astana) kept the yellow jersey after today's stage and closed in on another Tour de France title while Mark Cavendish (Team HTC-Columbia) of Great Britain again showed he's one of pro road cycling's best sprinters.

Cavendish captured the 18th stage in a final dash, his fourth stage victory in this race and the 14th of his career. The 199 kilometer / 123-mile ride from Salies de Bearn to Bordeaux favored sprinters, and Cavendish made it look easy.

Contador, the defending champion, held his eight-second lead over Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. That gap is expected to widen in Saturday's crucial and decisive 52 kilometer / 32-mile time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac.

"It was a rather calm stage today," Contador said. "I needed to be vigilant - the wind was in front - and especially for the last few kilometers, those are the most important ones."

Team Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck, not as strong as the Spaniard in time trials, says he's still got a card to play.

"I feel good. I have nothing to lose," Schleck said and added "He's better but I'm not bad either. We're going to see a battle tomorrow."

Cavendish, in the last several hundred yards, swerved left to get around two riders, including Norwegian sprint star Thor Hushovd. He then moved back right to cross alone.

Cavendish looked over his shoulder at the finish after winning by several bike lengths. Julian Dean (Team Garmin) of New Zealand was second and Alessandro Petacchi of Italy was third.

"I just wanted to conserve my energy," Cavendish said, when asked why he appeared to let up at the end. He said he wanted to save himself for the time trial.

"I doesn't matter whether you win by a lot or half a bike length," he said, after finishing in 4 hours, 37 minutes, 9 seconds, the same time awarded to the main pack. "I just wanted to win."

Alessandro Petacchi (Team Lampre) overtook Cervelo TestTeam's Thor Hushovd in the battle for the green jersey, which is awarded to the rider who obtain the most points in sprints. Hushovd finished 14th in the stage and gave up any hope of regaining the green jersey by the final stage Sunday on Paris' Champs-Elysees.

"It's a big disappointment, but I realized step by step during the sprints that I'm suffering," Hushovd said. "I don't have the same level as Cavendish and Petacchi, and today was just another sprint that didn't work out." Unfortunately Roadcycling.com's money have been on Hushovd.

Alessandro Petacchi will likely wear the green jersey all the way to Paris unless Thor Hushovd returns to his status as Norwegian God of Thunder by winning green jersey points in tomorrow's time trial by riding the time trial of his life. Be a real man Thor!

Cavendish's HTC Columbia team moved to the front of the pack in the last 12 miles, pressing the pace to reel in four breakaway riders who got out after seven miles and led nearly the whole day.

With less than two miles to go,

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