Cavendish wins Tour stage 18 with irresistible sprint

Mark Cavendish wins, Tour de France 2012, stage 18

Tour de France 2012 stage 18 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Mark Cavendish (Sky) showed his scintillating speed with a breathtaking victory in stage 18 of the Tour de France into Brive.

He rocketed past the last remnants of a late breakaway, Nicolas Roche (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank), in the final 150 metres after starting his sprint early.

Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and green jersey Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) finished second and third, ten bike lengths back after a thrilling final ten kilometres of breakaway versus bunch cat-and-mouse.

It took seventy kilometres into the stage for the escape to go. It consisted of sixteen men, including David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana).

Dog day for unlucky four

The gap was kept on a tight lead - unlike an errant four-legged roadside spectator.

A dog ran into the road 100 kilometres from the finish, causing Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Denis Menchov (Katusha), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ) to crash.

Despite the size of the group, the bunch ate into their lead gradually. Onto the final climb, the fourth-category Cote de Lussac-sur-Couze, Vinokourov, Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol) forced themselves away and over the top.

Roche and Sanchez bridged across from the bunch with a few others and forced the issue in the closing kilometres on rain-damp roads.

Cav clinches it

But they couldn't hold off a chase from the bunch, aided by a fierce turn on the front by Bradley Wiggins. He handed it over to Edvald Boasson Hagen and Mark Cavendish, whose long sprint was irresistible and left his rivals standing.

That's two stage wins for Cavendish, who has taken a background role in Sky's yellow jersey-centric Tour, and five for Great Britain so far.

The world champion will be hoping to oblige similarly in eight days time on The Mall in the Olympic road race. Today showed that Cavendish can handle a sharpish climb without sacrificing his speed.

But first, he'll be hunting a fourth consecutive final stage win on the Champs Elysees in two days time.

Only tomorrow's 53.5-kilometre time-trial from Bonneval to Chartres and a short final stage into Paris stands between Bradley Wiggins and Tour de France victory.


Tour de France 2012 stage 18, Blagnac-Brive-la-Gaillarde, 222.5km

1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Sky 4-54-12

2. Matt Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge

3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale

4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank

5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale

6. Tyler Farrar (Usa) Garmiin-Sharp

7. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM

8. Sebastien Hinault (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale

9. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge

10. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis all same time

Overall classification after stage 18

1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky in 83-22-18

2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 2-05

3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 2-41

4. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 5-53

5. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 8-30

6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 9-57

7. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Radioshack-Nissan at 10-11

8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 10-17

9. Janez Brajokovic (Slo) Astana at 11-00

10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 11-46

Philippe Gilbert confronts owner of a dog that caused a crash in the peloton by running into the road

Janez Brajkovic crashes

David Millar at the front of the escape group

Could it be? We are amused by Wiggo's achievements

Bradley Wiggins edges closer to Paris

Mark Cavendish takes his 22nd Tour stage win

Tour de France 2012: Latest news

Sky's quick exit strategy from the Tour

Wiggins and Froome explain Tour stage 17 final climb debate

Liquigas hopes Tour success could help find sponsor

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 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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