Mark Cavendish showed he is on track for a great Tour de France by winning the third stage at the Tour of Switzerland on Monday.
Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) tried to anticipate Cavendish's move on the slightly rising and narrow finish. Cavendish had to go the long way around team mate George Hincapie who had lead out the sprint but he was on Hushovd's wheel in a flash and then powered past him in the final hundred metres.
Hushovd faded badly and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) came past him but the three-time world champion was almost two bike lengths behind Cavendish.
The Columbia team again gave Cavendish a perfect lead out. They helped pull back the four-rider break and then closed down a late attack by Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin). George Hincapie again used his experience to judge his effort in the final kilometre and then Cavendish did the rest.
"It was another perfect win for us and having four riders there to help me in the last three kilometres showed how good and strong we are as a team," Cavendish said after the stage.
"To be honest, we didn't expect this stage to finish in a sprint and so we changed our tactics in the finale. It was a great lead out and all the guys worked perfectly. Thor Hushovd tried to get a jump on me but I was able to get him before the line."
"This is the first time I've ridden the Tour of Switzerland but this is our second consecutive win, so it's proving to be a great race for us," said Cavendish, referrring to Bernhard Eisel's win yesterday.
"I'm here to get ready for the Tour de France. I've got to lose some weight and I've got to suffer in the mountains here so that I don't have to suffer too much in the mountains at the Tour."
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) finished in the same time as Cavendish and so kept the overall race lead for another day.
Tuesday's 196.6km fourth stage is from Biasca to Stafa and includes the 2,108m high Gotthardpass early in the stage and two minor climbs late on but could finish in another sprint that suits Cavendish.
The win is Cavendish's 40th victory in just three years as a professional. He needs just one more to equal Chris Boardman's British record of 41 in Cycling Weekly's all-time list of British pro winners.
Stage three: Davos-Lumino, 198km
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad in 4-39-27
2. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
3. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo
4. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre
5. Jose Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto
7. Renaud Dion (Fra) Ag2r
8. Yohan Offredo (Fra) Francaise de Jeux
9. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Francaise de Jeux
10. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank all same time.
Overall classification after stage three
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank
2. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 22sec
3. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 25sec
4. George Hincapie (USA) Columbia-Highroadat 27sec
5. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-Highroad at 34se
6. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Columbia-Highroad at 35sec
7. Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Saxo Bank at 36sec
8. Rui Alberto (Por) Caisse d'Epargne at 38sec
9. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank at 39sec
10. Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick Step at 41sec
Mark Cavendish takes the 40th pro win of his career
Race leader Fabian Cancellara
Stage 2: Eisel wins Tour of Switzerland sprint
Stage 1: Cancellara back to best with Suisse stage win
Tour de France 2009 spectator guide
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