Stage 13: Narbonne - Nîmes 182km

By BikeRadar & AFP

Friday, July 18, 2008 5.41pm

British sprinter makes it four in Nimes

Britain's Mark Cavendish claimed his fourth victory on the Tour de France Friday after dominating another bunch sprint at the end of the 182.5km 13th stage from Narbonne to Nimes.

Australian Cadel Evans retained the race leader's yellow jersey ahead of Saturday's 14th stage from here to Dignes-les-Bains at the foot of the Alps.

Only 24 hours after his record-setting victory on stage 12, Cavendish reinforced his reputation as the race's fastest sprinter after outgunning Evans' Silence-Lotto teammate Robbie McEwen.

McEwen finished second, with Frenchman Roman Feillu, of the Agritubel team, claiming third place ahead of German Heinrich Haussler and Spaniard Oscar Freire.

"I had to give it a final push and give it full gas again at the end because when I did the initial kick I didn't realise there was a headwind at the finish," said Cavendish.

"I thought, Oh no, I'm going to have to get a further advantage' and so I put in another kick with about 100 to go in case I died. I didn't die and I was able to hold on so I'm pleased."

Cavendish's fourth win on the race means he has now equalled the impressive feats of respected sprinters Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi, both of whom won four wins from single editions, in 1999 and 2003 respectively.

To put his success into perspective, Cavendish - on only his second Tour participation - already has a quarter of the 12 stages won by McEwen, one of the elder statesmen of the race.

The 23-year-old 'Mongoose' also raised the bar a notch higher for British riders on the race, having beaten Barry Hoban's all-time record of two stage wins in a single edition by winning Thursday's 12th stage.

Cavendish fought back his frustration on Thursday when asked his feelings about the doping scandals that have rocked the Tour. After his latest win, he quickly declared that all he was interested in discussing was his and his Columbia team's achievements.

"We all work so well and so selflessly, and that shows in our results. I love these guys like my brothers," said Cavendish, who added that each of his stage wins was different. For sure my favourite one is the first one, the team held it so well together for me. Yesterday I was able to go so far from the finish. Today was the hardest one, I sprinted in my normal fashion and jumped off the train and went for the line.

"But at the end of the day, a win's a win. I've done my job for the day."

McEwen had so far had few chances to unleash his trademark sprint for the line, but once he did the 34-year-old came up against a rider he has described as "just too strong".

"I did two sprints, the first one was 500 metres with my nose in the wind to try and get a good position, then a second one just before the line. But Cavendish is simply too strong and too fast," said McEwen. "This was the first time that I've really had a chance to do my sprint, and so it's a relief. I'm glad I was able to sprint, finally. But in the end I was beaten fair and square."

Cavendish acknowledged that he is leaving only crumbs for all his sprint rivals. So far Oscar Freire, McEwen, Gert Steegmans and a few other big names have failed to raise their arms in triumph.

However, the Isle of Man rider, who will compete in the Madison for Britain at the Olympic Games in Beijing, is feeling sorry for no one.

"I've even had a couple of text messages from the other team managers joking that I have to leave them a stage," added Cavendish. "But at the end of the day I'm here to do a job, it's unfortunate for them."

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com. Click here for video coverage, then listen to BikeRadar's Tour podcast here.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008 

STAGE 13 RESULTS

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr|Team Columbia) 4:25:42
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus|Silence - Lotto)
3 Romain Feillu (Fra|Agritubel)
4 Heinrich Haussler (Ger|Gerolsteiner)
5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa|Rabobank)
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor|Crédit Agricole)
7 Leonardo Duque (Col|Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone)
8 Erik Zabel (Ger|Team Milram)
9 Julian Dean (NZl|Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)
10 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra|Française des Jeux)
11 Robert Hunter (RSA|Barloworld)
12 Gert Steegmans (Bel|Quick Step)
13 Iñaki Isasi Flores (Spa|Euskaltel - Euskadi)
14 Arnaud Coyot (Fra|Caisse d'Epargne)
15 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa|Euskaltel - Euskadi)
16 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa|Bouygues Telecom)
17 Martijn Maaskant (Ned|Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)
18 Alessandro Ballan (Ita|Lampre)
19 Robert Förster (Ger|Gerolsteiner)
20 Jimmy Casper (Fra|Agritubel)
 
General classification after stage 13
 
1 Cadel Evans (Aus|Silence - Lotto) 54:48:47
2 Frank Schleck (Lux|Team CSC - Saxo Bank) 0:00:01
3 Christian Vande Velde (USA|Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) 0:00:38
4 Bernhard Kohl (Aut|Gerolsteiner) 0:00:46
5 Denis Menchov (Rus|Rabobank) 0:00:57
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa|Team CSC - Saxo Bank) 0:01:28
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux|Team Columbia) 0:01:56
8 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus|AG2R La Mondiale) 0:02:32
9 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa|Euskaltel - Euskadi) 0:03:51
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita|Liquigas) 0:04:18
11 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa|Euskaltel - Euskadi) 0:04:26
12 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa|Caisse d'Epargne) 0:04:41
13 Tadej Valjavec (Slo|AG2R La Mondiale) 0:05:23
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita|Lampre) 0:05:37
15 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa|Caisse d'Epargne) 0:06:01
16 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus|Crédit Agricole) 0:06:07
17 Stefan Schumacher (Ger|Gerolsteiner) 0:06:26
18 Maxime Monfort (Bel|Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) 0:07:07
19 Roman Kreuziger (Cze|Liquigas) 0:07:11
20 Andy Schleck (Lux|Team CSC - Saxo Bank) 0:08:45

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