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Cavendish claims fourth stage victory

Mark Cavendish once again proved unstoppable as he powered to his fourth Tour de France stage victory.
Mark Cavendish once again proved unstoppable as he powered to his fourth Tour de France stage victory.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark Cavendish powers to victory in the 18th stage of the Tour de France to Bordeaux
  • The Briton collects his fourth stage win of the race and his 14th career Tour victory
  • There is no change in the overall classification with Alberto Contador retaining yellow
  • Contador is eight seconds ahead of Andy Schleck prior to the deciding time-trial

(CNN) -- Briton Mark Cavendish again showed he is the fastest man in the peloton with a convincing sprint victory in the 198km 18th stage of the Tour de France from Salies-de-Bearn to Bordeaux -- his fourth win of this year's race.

The 'Manx Missile' proved that he can win stages despite the absence of lead-out man Mark Renshaw -- who was thrown out of the race last week after aiming a head-butt at rival Julian Dean -- by powering clear of his rivals on the finishing straight to secure the most impressive of his quartet of victories.

HTC-Columbia rider Cavendish, who has now collected a remarkable 14 stage victories since 2008, came home ahead of New Zealander Dean, with Alessandro Petacchi back in third place.

"It was up me to kind of freestyle for the last kilometer," Cavendish told the official Tour de France website. "I was jumping from wheel to wheel; I was back to my old style of sprinting and it worked out well for me."

It was up me to freestyle for the last kilometer. I was jumping from wheel to wheel, back to my old style of sprinting, and it worked out.
--Mark Cavendish
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There was no change in the overall classification with defending champion Alberto Contador retaining his slender eight-second advantage over Andy Schleck ahead of Saturday's deciding 52km time-trial to Pauillac.

However, there was a significant change in the battle for the green points jersey, with Petacchi's third position enough for him to take over that competition's lead from Norwegian Thor Hushovd -- who finished a lowly 14th.

Lampre rider Petacchi now leads Hushovd by 10 points, with Cavendish a further six points adrift, meaning the jersey could still change hands once again on Sunday's final stage to Paris.

The main attack of the day saw four riders; Daniel Oss, Jerome Pineau, Benoit Vaugrenard and Matti Breschel break away from the peloton at the 11km mark.

The quartet managed to build-up an advantage of nearly four minutes over the main field, but three of them were caught with 12km remaining, with Liquigas rider Oss the final one to be reeled in at the 5km mark.