Cavendish adds to impressive Tour de France for Sky

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2012, stage two

Sky added to what has already been an impressive 2012 Tour de France by winning stage 18 on Friday with Mark Cavendish. Bradley Wiggins, wearing the race leader's yellow jersey, led the World Champion through the final bends into Brive-la-Gaillarde and punched the air in celebration when he crossed the line.

"We don't want to be greedy, but we are here to perform and we are delivering," sports director, Sean Yates explained. "There were still a number of stages where we could've chased the breakaway and had a chance of wins, but we haven't done that. We've done everything we can to protect the jersey."

An escape with Nicolas Roche (Ag2r), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank) nearly stayed clear. Behind, though, Wiggins revved up to lead Cavendish to his second 2012 stage win. He promised Cavendish earlier in the day: "This one is for you".

"We didn't know it was going to be a sprint today, it was a hard stage, it could have been easy for my guys to cruise in after the mountains they've ridden," Cavendish explained after the finish, in the cool video conference cabin.

"Yates said today let's just take it easy, but I asked to have sprint. 'Please can I have a sprint?' Brad piped up, and said, 'Yes, let's sprint'."

Wiggins led through a left-hand turn in the final kilometre. He eyed Roche, brought Cavendish close enough and eased up to watch the sprint. Edvald Boasson Hagen took over, went though a right turn and released Cavendish. Cavendish passed Sánchez, Roche and covered the last 250 metres at the head.

Cavendish won over Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), Wiggins threw up his right fist up and Roche held on for 12th.

"He knows we're here to win the Tour and where priorities are. That's not to say that Bradley won't take it upon himself to win a stage, as he did today and in previous days," Yates said. "It shows, when it comes to the time, we are willing to contribute unless it conflicts with our goal to win the overall."

Sky collected four stages so far this Tour with Chris Froome winning the summit finish to La Planche des Belles Filles, Wiggins winning the Besançon time trial and Cavendish's in Tournai and in Brive-la-Gaillarde today. It only needs two more days before it can celebrate Great Britain's first Tour de France win, both days - a time trial and a flat stage into Paris - suit its leaders.

Cavendish added: "As a British team being here, doing what we're doing, I'm proud to be a part of that."

Tour de France 2012: Latest news

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Wiggins and Froome explain Tour stage 17 final climb debate

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Froome: Nibali's attacks weren't going anywhere

Wiggins' Tour de France training

Voigt tries to carry on as RadioShack's future seems in doubt

Frank Schleck positive for banned substance at Tour

Rest day review (July 17)

Defending Tour champ Evans has work to do in Pyrenees

Sprinters' teams unwilling to work on stage 15

Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack

Froome not winning this year's Tour is 'very great sacrifice'

Frank Schleck criticises 'boring' Tour de France

Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list

Tour 2012: Who will win?

Tour de France 2012 start list and withdrawals

Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports

Stage 18: Cavendish wins Tour stage 18 with irresistible sprint

Stage 17: Wiggins step closer to Paris as Valverde wins stage

Stage 16: Voeckler the Pyrenean king as he wins in Bagneres de Luchon

Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton

Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank's Tour

Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage

Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last

Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back

Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour

Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT

Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks

Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage

Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage

Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades

Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes

Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne

Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory

Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt

Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs

Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles

Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials

CW's Tour de France podcasts

Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs

Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries

Stage 18 by Graham Watson

Stage 17 by Graham Watson

Stage 16 by Graham Watson

Stage 15 by Graham Watson

Stage 14 by Graham Watson

Stage 13 by Graham Watson

Stage 12 by Graham Watson

Stage 11 by Graham Watson

Stage 10 by Graham Watson

Stage nine by Graham Watson

Stage eight by Graham Watson

Stage seven by Graham Watson

Stage six by Graham Watson

Stage five by Graham Watson

Stage four by Graham Watson

Stage three by Graham Watson

Stage two by Andy Jones

Stage two by Graham Watson

Stage one by Graham Watson

Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones

Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler

Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson

Tour de France 2012: Team presentation

Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage

Stage 17 live coverage

Stage 16 live coverage

Stage 12 live coverage

Stage 11 live coverage

Stage 10 live coverage

Stage nine live coverage

Stage six live coverage

Stage five live coverage

Stage four live coverage

Stage three live coverage

Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule

ITV4 live schedule

British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Brief history of the Tour de France

Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index

1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever

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