Cavendish Takes Stage 11 of Tour
Mark Cavendish (Columbia) has won his fourth stage of the 2009 Tour and his second consecutive one. The Columbia man bested Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin) in a bunch sprint to win the rolling, 192-km run from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau in 4:17:55. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) remains the maillot jaune.
Several abortive sallies took place early in the stage. After a crash at 15 km that took down Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) and Sebestien Rosseler (Quick Step), race officials neutralized the stage until the riders could get back on.
Just before the first intermediate sprint at 26.5 km, the break of the day occurred. Johan Vansummeren (Silence) and Marcin Sapa (Lampre) escaped, but the peloton kept the pair on a short leash. Their lead maxed out at four and a half minutes.
Columbia and Ag2r led the pursuit. The chase was slow, and Vansummeren and Sapa dangled off of the front until the bunch scooped them up with five km left.
Columbia took over sole command at the front. With one km remaining, Milram battled the American squad for control, but Columbia would not be denied. With 150 m to go, Cavendish powered into the lead and held off Farrar, who overtook Hushovd.
In the overall, Nocentini leads Alberto Contador (Astana) by 0:06 and Lance Armstrong (Astana) by 0:08. Stage 12 will not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 211.5-km run from Tonnerre to Vittel will be hillier than Stages 10 and 11, but the sprinters should be able to control the finish. Will Cavendish make it three in a row? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!