Tour de France 2011: Mark Cavendish wins 19th Tour stage
TOUR DE FRANCE 2011
Dates: 2 July - 24 July
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Coverage: Listen live to every stage finish on the BBC Sport website (UK only); live text commentary on key stages; updates on BBC Radio 5 live & sports extra
Cavendish will now focus on making it through the mountains
Manxman Mark Cavendish secured his fourth win of this year's Tour de France, and 19th overall, with a well-timed sprint at the end of stage 15.
Quick Step rider Niki Terpstra had a 12-second lead with 5km remaining but he was soon swallowed by the peloton before the HTC team put Cavendish in a position to attack in the final 200m.
He now has a 37-point lead over Jose Joaquin Rojas in the points standings, while Frenchman Thomas Voeckler retains the race leader's yellow jersey.
The other overall leading positions remained the same, with a gap of one minute and 49 seconds separating Voeckler and second-placed Frank Schleck of Leopard-Trek with Cadel Evans of BMC, 2:06 behind the leader.
But once again, Cavendish and his team HTC-Highroad grabbed the headlines.
LE TOUR STAGE WINNERS*
Eddy Merckx (Bel) 34
Bernard Hinault (Fr) 28
Andre Leducq (Fr) 25
Lance Armstrong (US) 22
Andre Darrigade (Fr) 22
Nicolas Frantz (Lux) 20
Francois Faber (Lux) 19
Mark Cavendish (GB) 19
*individual stage wins
The 26-year-old's victory on the 193-km stage from Limoux to Montpellier was his 19th Tour success in four years.
The win took him to equal seventh on the all-time list of stage winners, alongside Francois Faber, with the only other entrant above him from the last 25 years the seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong, who won 22 stages between 1993 and 2005.
Cavendish is also on course to take the green jersey for the first time in his career. He took 10 points in the intermediate sprint which took place with 46.5km of the stage remaining. Rojas claimed nine points and Philippe Gilbert, 71 points behind in the race for green, took eight.
"In the first half we worked with Europcar then in the second half we worked on our own," said Cavendish.
"The fact we got through yesterday makes it even more gratifying to win here. It was a difficult and technical finish today. The guys kept together. They're an incredible group, I'm so so proud of them."
CAVENDISH WINS AT LE TOUR
2011 - Four (after stage 15)
2010 - Five
2009 - Six
2008 - Four
Earlier, Katusha's Mikhail Ignatiev was part of a five-man breakaway group before he broke from that party with 22km remaining and with Quick Step's Niki Terpstra for support.
Ignatiev was caught with 5km to go leaving Terpstra as the lone man before he was reeled back by a combination of HTC and Garmin-Cervelo and the lead huntsmen of the the chasing pack.
Gilbert, FDJ's Anthony Roux and Vacansoleil's Marco Marcato made a break with 3km remaining but their efforts were in vain as the peloton caught the trio and prepared for the frantic finish.
With 200m to go, Cavendish was guided to the front by team-mate Mark Renshaw before taking the inside and sprinting home ahead of American Tyler Farrar and Italian Alessandro Petacchi.
STAGE 15 RESULT
1. Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC-Highroad) 4hrs 20mins 24secs"
2. Tyler Farrar (US/Garmin) same time
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita/Lampre)
4. Daniel Oss (Ita/Liquigas)
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Movistar)
6. Ben Swift (GB/Team Sky)
7. Gerald Ciolek (Ger/Quick-Step)
8. Tony Gallopin (Fra/Cofidis)
9. Francisco Ventoso (Spa/Movistar)
10. Sebastien Hinault (Fra/AG2R)
1. Thomas Voeckler (France/Europcar) 65 hrs 24 mins 34 secs
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