July 24, 2009

Cavendish wins fifth tour stage this year

Mark Cavendish collected his fifth Tour de France stage victory of the year with a stirring late sprint at the end of Friday's 19th stage.

Alessandro Ballan and Laurent Lefevre took the lead with about 15 miles to go but the peloton was never more than a few seconds behind. The duo held on before the sprinters caught them in the final mile of the 106.8-mile run from Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas.

Cavendish stayed close to the leaders until the final 100 yards when he burst out of the left side of the pack. He powered his way across the final line ahead of 11 other riders who were all credited with matching Cavendish's time of 3 hours, 50 minutes, 59 seconds.

Cavendish also won stages 2, 3, 10 and 11 this year. He has nine stage victories over his career.

Alberto Contador was in a large group of riders that crossed 4 seconds behind Cavendish and kept his 4:11 edge over Andy Schleck in the overall standings. Lance Armstrong is 5:21 off Cantador's pace in third place.

Saturday's penultimate Tour de France stage covers 100.2 miles from Montelimar to Mont Ventoux and closes with an uncategorized climb over the last 13 miles.