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Cavendish wins to equal British record

July 15, 2009 23:18 IST

Mark Cavendish strengthened his grip on the Tour de France sprints when he won the 11th stage Wednesday to equal Barry Hoban's British record of eight victories in the world's greatest race.

The Isle of Man rider outsprinted American Tyler Farrar and Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus at the end of a 192km ride from Vatan to St Fargeau to take his fourth win in this year's Tour.

"It was slightly uphill so we knew it would be a different sprint and we adapted to that situation," Cavendish told a news conference.

"We had to deliver me later so we had four guys in the last kilometre instead of two. Again, it was just beautiful the way the guys led me."

Asked whether he felt there was no opposition on the field, Cavendish said: "It is a massive, massive insult to say the guys are weak."

Hoban won his eight stages from 1967 to '75, the last at the age of 35, while the 24-year-old Cavendish is taking part in only his second Tour.

Italian Rinaldo Nocentini retained the overall leader's yellow jersey six seconds ahead of Spain's Alberto Contador with American Lance Armstrong in third place eight seconds off the pace.

Briton Bradley Wiggins moved back up to fifth after the race jury decided to cancel a 15-second gap between two bunches in the final part of Tuesday's stage.

Communications between sports directors and their riders were allowed after Tuesday's experimental ban.

Earpieces were supposed to be banned again for Friday's stage to Colmar but the International Cycling Union (UCI) said that its managing board was asked to vote on the matter by Thursday following team managers' protest.

Wednesday's stage was marred by two early crashes that allowed Belgian Johan Van Summeren and Marcin Sapa of Poland to break away after 24km.

Nocentini was involved in one of them but avoided injury.

"I fell but it was not serious, it was a quiet ride after all," the Italian said.

The duo built a maximum lead of 4 minutes 35 seconds before the sprinters' team used their collective force to rein in the fugitives.

Cavendish's Columbia team mates set up the perfect lead-out for their sprinter, who resisted Farrar's late burst of speed to claim the green jersey for the points classification off Norwegian Thor Hushovd's shoulders.

Julien Pretot
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