Cavendish chalks up another Tour de France stage win

Britain's Mark Cavendish today recorded the 12th win of his Tour de France career with victory on stage six.

The HTC-Columbia sprinter, who won four Tour stages in 2008 and six in 2009, yesterday recorded his fourth victory of the season on stage five and he followed it up with a second straight success on the 227.5-kilometres sixth stage from Montargis to Gueugnon.

Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin-Transitions) was second, with Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese) third, while points classification leader Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) finished 10th and retained the green jersey.

The general classification standings were unchanged as the peloton finished on the same time.

Ireland's Nicolas Roche remains in 11th place, one minute and 42 seconds off the pace.

Victory for the Manxman came at the end of the longest stage in this year's Tour.

Cavendish said: "It was a really, really hard day, actually, a lot of up and down and a lot of miserable faces but the team did a really good job."

The longest stage of the 97th Tour included four category four climbs.

On the final climb Dimitri Champion (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygyes Telecom) joined the day's three-man breakaway - featuring Mathieu Perget (Caisse d'Epargne), Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

Perget attacked again to go ahead alone, but all the escapees were swallowed up with 10km to the finish.

A long straight into Gueugnon allowed the peloton to accelerate, before the bunch passed through a tight roundabout, a 90-degree right turn and a tight left-hander before a 500m run into the finish.

Again the HTC-Columbia train was infiltrated by rival teams, including Petacchi's Lampre-Farnese squad.

But Mark Renshaw and Cavendish remained calm, sitting on the wheel of the Team Garmin-Transitions squad as they hit the front before the Manxman accelerated off his Australian team-mate's wheel to triumph.

Yesterday Cavendish won after crashing and floundering on the two opening sprint stages of the 97th Tour - his fourth.

He repeated the sprint victory today, keeping his hopes of winning the green jersey alive.

The result sees Cavendish cut the gap in the points classification standings, but with the mountains approaching and just three or four sprint stages to come, he is still relying on defending champion Hushovd stumbling in his bid for the 'maillot vert'.

Hushovd has 118 points, Petacchi 114 and Cavendish lies fifth in the standings on 85 points after collecting 70 points for his two victories in two days.

The general classification standings remained unchanged for a third straight day, with Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank) still in the yellow jersey.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) lies second, with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) third, while Alberto Contador (Astana) stands ninth, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) 14th and Lance Armstrong (Team RadioShack) 18th.

However, the race for the yellow jersey could hot up tomorrow, with the 165.5km mid-mountains stage from Tournus to Station des Rousses, before the first Alpine stage on Sunday, the 189km eighth stage from Station des Rousses to Morzine-Avoriaz.

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