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Crash ends title hopeful's Tour as Cavendish wins again

Mark Cavendish celebrates after winning a sprint finish to the seventh of 21 stages at the 2011 Tour de France.
Mark Cavendish celebrates after winning a sprint finish to the seventh of 21 stages at the 2011 Tour de France.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • British rider Bradley Wiggins out of Tour de France after crash on stage seven
  • Mark Cavendish wins for his 17th career victory at cycling's biggest race
  • Thor Hushovd finishes in the pack on the same time to retain his slender lead
  • The climbers will have a chance to take over this weekend as race enters hilly region

(CNN) -- British cyclist Mark Cavendish claimed his 17th stage victory at the Tour de France on a crash-marred seventh leg on Friday that saw title hopeful Bradley Wiggins' participation end with a broken collarbone.

Cavendish won his second stage of this year's event as sprint rival Thor Hushovd retained his slim overall lead following the incident-packed 218 kilometers from Le Mans to Chateauroux.

Team Sky had celebrated their first win in the sport's premier race on Thursday when Edvald Boasson Hagen came in first, but that joy proved short-lived when Wiggins was taken to hospital after a tumble with 40 km left.

Having place fourth in 2009 and won this year's Criterium du Dauphine, the British road race champion was expected to be among those challenging for the title along with holder Alberto Contador and Luxembourg's Andy Schleck.

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This is a special place. It's where I won my first stage back in 2008 and the first of 17 wins is important
--Mark Cavendish
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"When you have got 200 riders trying to stay at the front on small roads like that it's always going to happen. It's just one of those things," Wiggins said in quotes reported by the UK Press Association.

"I couldn't get up off the floor for love nor money, and once I did make it to the side of the road I kept saying I wanted to get back on the bike, but there comes a point where you just can't do it. I feel top of the world now, I had some fantastic drugs. I feel fabulous."

Belgium's Tom Boonen, a six-time stage winner riding for the Quick Step team, also quit after he crashed.

Cavendish, riding for the HTC-Highroad team, sprinted home ahead of last year's green jersey winner Alessandro Petacchi of Italy and Germany's Andre Greipel.

It left him third in the sprint standings, 17 points behind Spain's Jose Joaquin Rojas, and 59th overall -- more than six minutes adrift of Hushovd.

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"This is a special place. It's where I won my first stage back in 2008 and the first of 17 wins is important," Cavendish said after following up his victory on Wednesday.

"When I saw Greipel come up alongside I knew if he was coming at me with me with this speed he had already been accelerating for a long time, so I knew he'd die. It was just a case of holding him."

Garmin-Cervelo team rider Hushovd retained his one-second overall lead from Australia's Cadel Evans.

The Norwegian was given seventh place as the top 80 riders were given the same time as Cavendish -- five hours 38 minutes and 53 seconds.

That included Evans, Contador and the Schleck bothers Andy and Frank -- the latter of whom is third overall, four seconds off the pace. Andy is 12s behind the yellow jersey wearer.

Hushovd, a two-time sprint jersey winner, will see his title aspirations severely tested this weekend as the 21-stage race heads into the hilly Massif Central region.

Contador, a renowned climber, is one minute 42 seconds adrift as he seeks to win the race for the fourth time.

Radio Shack's American Chris Horner is in doubt for the rest of the race after breaking his nose and suffering concussion.

His compatriot Levi Leipheimer also went down, but completed the stage, as did Canada's Ryder Hesjedal.

Belgium's Tom Boonen Ukraine's Yaroslav Popovych and Spanish cyclists Haimar Zubeldia and Markel Irizar crashed as well.