TOULOUSE // Mark Cavendish sprinted to his second stage win in just four days with a blistering finish in Toulouse last night. The Englishman, who had already celebrated victory on stage five, was moved into position by the Team Columbia train on the wet outskirts of the city. His lead-out men pulled away, Cavendish, 23, was swamped by the Tour's leading sprinters, but he raced past Quickstep's Gert Steegmans to become the first Briton to win two stages in one Tour since Barry Hoban in 1973.
The result was a one-two for Columbia with Cavendish's teammate Gerald Ciolek taking the runners-up spot ahead of France's Jimmy Casper in third. In the process, Kim Kirchen maintained his narrow six-second lead in the race over the race favourite Cadel Evans and will spend at least another day in the yellow jersey. Earlier in the day, a four-man breakaway of Jerome Pineau, Laurent Lefevre, Amets Txurruka and Christophe Riblo had lacked the speed to trouble the peloton. Their five-minute advantage was comfortably reduced well before the finish.
The 170 riders left in the race - there have been nine retirements and the explusion of Manuel Beltran to date - were unlikely to have rested easily last night. The horrors of two first-category climbs await them today and a monstrous six hours of riding out of Toulouse. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org