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Wiggins and Cavendish demonstrate Sky's Tour dominance

updated 12:43 PM EDT, Fri July 20, 2012
Mark Cavendish celebrates winning Stage 18 of the Tour de France
Mark Cavendish celebrates winning Stage 18 of the Tour de France
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Britain's Mark Cavendish claims second win of this year's Tour
  • Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins maintains overall lead
  • Dog on the course cause four-bike crash
  • Franck Schleck announces failed 'B' sample, pleads innocence

(CNN) -- Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins moved closer to Britain's first overall victory at the Tour de France, maintaining his two minute five second lead over his rivals.

Wiggins, who was wearing the leader's yellow jersey for an eleventh straight day, never looked troubled on the 222.5 km route from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde.

His teammate Mark Cavendish reinforced the British team's dominance with a spectacular sprint over the final few hundred meters to claim his second victory of this year's race.

The day's stage had earlier been interrupted by a dog breaking onto the course, resulting in a four bike crash.

Cavendish, a sprint specialist who will represent Britain at the forthcoming Olympic Games, has spent a lot of the Tour supporting Wiggins' attempt to claim the overall title.

"Cav has waited a while for that and he's been patient. It's been difficult the last couple of weeks, we've had to put his goals and aspirations aside really," Wiggins told the Tour website.

CNN Explains: Tour de France
Bradley Wiggins, left, celebrates on the finish line with teammate Michael Rogers of Australia after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France on Sunday, July 22, in Paris. Bradley Wiggins, left, celebrates on the finish line with teammate Michael Rogers of Australia after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France on Sunday, July 22, in Paris.
Tour de France 2012: The best photos
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Wiggins admitted his team mate had sacrificed himself for the yellow jersey chase, but claimed Cavendish had "been the first to say, 'look guys, I think the general classification is more important."

Cavendish's victory in the 222.5 km stage between Blagnac and Brive-la-Gaillarde was his 22nd stage win at the Tour, moving him up to fourth in the all time records. He is now level with American Lance Armstrong and legendary French sprinter Andre Darrigade.

"Twenty two stage wins... has it sunk in? Yeah! Because I've been waiting to do it for nearly three weeks now," Cavendish told the Tour website.

"I'm now equal with Andre Darrigade: he won 15 sprints but 22 stages of the Tour de France. So to match him is something, it makes me happy"

The first incident of the day occurred 120 km into the stage when a large dog ran onto the course, causing a crash.

I've had a lot of desperation for a sprint as we haven't had a lot for me to do this year
Mark Cavendish

Four riders were unseated in the collision, notably Philippe Gilbert of the BMC team.

The former Belgian national champion took a moment to remonstrate with the dog's owner before climbing back onto his bike. Gilbert later received treatment during the race from Tour medical staff.

Team RadioShack-Nissan rider Franck Schleck, who withdrew from this year's Tour after a failing a doping test, has protested his innocence after announcing that his 'B' sample also tested positive.

"The result of the counter test was positive, but for me nothing changes," he said in a statement.

"I just know that I did nothing wrong. I will therefore continue my search to find out ho the substance could have entered my body."

Luxembourger Schleck, whose brother Andy won the 2010 tour when Alberto Contador failed a doping test, was 12th when he withdrew from the race.

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