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Britain?s Mark Cavendish (Columbia) won his second stage at the Tour de France with another powerful sprint finish.

Cavendish seemed too far back on the wet finish in Toulouse but opened up with his pure speed and blew past Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) and Jimmy Casper (Agritubel). Team mate Gerald Ciolek had the speed to follow Cavendish to the line to complete a Columbia one-two.

Kim Kirchen safely finished in the bunch and kept the yellow jersey as Columbia celebrated yet again with hugs and high fives at the finish.

?That was brilliant,? Cavendish said after his win.

?Once again I?ve got to say how hard the team worked again. They controlled the race all day because there was a breakaway. Then we got help from other sprint teams in the finish and the gap came down and it was a perfect time to catch the break. We caught them and finished with a 1 -2 and you can?t get any better than that!?

Despite wet conditions and cool temperatures the 172.5km stage started fast as riders tried to create the early break.

Several moves went clear and were rapidly pulled back before Laurent Lefevere (Bouygues) got away alone after 40km and was first over the Cote de Macarou.

The bunch let him go and so Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Christophe Riblon (AG2R) decided to jump across and eventually teamed up with Lefevre after 83km. The bunch let them hang off the front but they never gained much more than five minutes as Columbia and then Credit Agricole set a steady tempo on the front of the bunch.

The gap gradually came down but then grew again as the bunch let the four riders stay out front so that other riders did not attack. In some kind of show of pride the Liquigas team took over on the front and then Barloworld hit the front to work for Robert Hunter and Baden Cooke.

Riblon and Lefevre were caught ten kilometres from the finish but Txurraka and Pineau hung on until four kilometres to go. Columbia took over with first Bernhard Eisel and then Marcus Burghardt strung out the bunch. White jersey wearer Thomas Lovkist then hit the front with two kilometres to go and George Hincapie took over in an impressive show of team strength.

The Quick Step train took over and lead round the dangerous right turn just before the final kilometre. Cavendish lost Gerald Ciolek?s wheel for a few seconds but then the two teamed up again. Steegmans and Casper lead out the sprint but went too early and Cavendish blasted past them thanks to his superior finishing speed.

He had time to put both arms up in the air with his usual pointed salute. One arm and one finger pointing upwards for each of his Tour de France victories.

At just 23 and in his second season as professional, who knows how many more sprints Cavendish will go on to win during his career.

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Columbia 172.5km in 4h 02m 54secs

2 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Columbia
3 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Agritubel
4 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
5 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
7 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step
8 Sebastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux
9 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
10 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld all same time

1. Kim Kirchen (Lux) Columbia in 32h 26m 34secs

2. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 6secs
3. Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner at 16secs
4. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle at 44secs
5. Denis Mechov (Rus) Rabobank at 1m 3secs
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Espargne at 1m 12secs
7. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Chipotle at 1m 14secs
8. Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step at 1m 21secs
9. Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 1m 21secs
10. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Columbia at 1m 21secs

1. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank

1. David De La Fuente (Spa) Saunier Duval

1. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Columbia

Tour de France 2008Mark Cavendish takes his second 2008 Tour victory. This and above pic by Luc Claessen

Tour de France 2008That makes it two: Cav celebrates in the rain

Tour de France 2008Team Columbia dominated the stage

Tour de France 2008A bedraggled peloton battle through the elements

Tour de France 2008Laurent Lefevere and Amets Txurruka lead the day’s break

Tour de France 2008Race leader Kim Kirchen: his team Columbia got first and second on the stage, have the best young rider and lead the race overall

Photos by Graham Watson unless stated

The all-time list of British pro stage winners: Cav moves up to seventh


Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage
Stage six: Ricco storms to win
Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win
Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead
Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break
Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint
Stage one: Valverde wins


Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit
Doping back in Tour de France headlines
Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]
Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]
Millar to go for yellow [stage six]
Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]
Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win
Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]
Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]
Who is Romain Feillu?
Cavendish disappointed with stage two result
Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey
Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?
Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec
Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win
Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?


Stage eight
Stage seven
Stage six
Stage five
Stage four
Stage three
Stage two
Stage one


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