Cavendish Claims Fourth Stage Victory

Briton Mark Cavendish again showed he is the fastest man in the peloton with a convincing sprint victory in the 198km 18th stage of the Tour de France from Salies-de-Bearn to Bordeaux -- his fourth win of this year's race. The 'Manx Missile' proved that he can win stages despite the absence of lead-out man Mark Renshaw -- who was thrown out of the race last week after aiming a head-butt at rival Julian Dean -- by powering clear of his rivals on the finishing straight to secure the most impressive of his quartet of victories. HTC-Columbia rider Cavendish, who has now collected a remarkable 14 stage victories since 2008, came home ahead of New Zealander Dean, with Alessandro Petacchi back in third place. "It was up me to kind of freestyle for the last kilometer," Cavendish told the official Tour de France website. "I was jumping from wheel to wheel; I was back to my old style of sprinting and it worked out well for me." There was no change in the overall classification with defending champion Alberto Contador retaining his slender eight-second advantage over Andy Schleck ahead of Saturday's deciding 52km time-trial to Pauillac. However, there was a significant change in the battle for the green points jersey, with Petacchi's third position enough for him to take over that competition's lead from Norwegian Thor Hushovd -- who finished a lowly 14th.