Cavendish Wins Third Stage of 2008 Tour
Mark Cavendish (Columbia) has won his third stage of this year's Tour de France. Cavendish took a bunch sprint to win Stage 12, a rolling, 168.5-km run from Lavelanet to Narbonne, in 3:40:52. Sebastien Chavanel (Francaise des Jeux) finished second, and Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) took third. Cadel Evans (Silence) remains the maillot jaune.
The day's big news was that Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval), the winner of Stages 6 and 9, tested positive for EPO after the Stage 4 time trial at Cholet. Police took Ricco into custody for questioning, and Saunier Duval left the Tour.
After a series of abortive sallies, Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) and Arnaud Gerard (Francaise des Jeux) escaped. The pair led the field by more than a minute at 40 km and by 3:40 at 50 km.
Columbia, Silence, Credit Agricole, and Quick Step went to the front. The bunch whittled down the break's advantage, and with about 55 km remaining, the gap was 0:35. Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel) bridged up to the break, and the trio's advantage rose to 1:30.
Silence lent its muscle to the chase. The break led the bunch by 0:30 at 142 km and 0:40 at 148 km. Quick Step, Liquigas, Columbia, and CSC took over at the front and reeled in the break with nine km remaining.
With six km left, Columbia set up its train for Cavendish. Three km later, Milram moved to the front. Quick Step led the field into the last km. Steegmans attacked on the left, and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) jumped in the middle, but Cavendish passed Hushovd for the win.
In the overall, Evans leads Frank Schleck (CSC) by 0:01 and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) by 0:38. Stage 13 should look like Stage 12. The rolling, 182-km ride from Narbonne to Nimes should end in a bunch sprint. Will Cavendish make it two in a row? Will Hushovd, Oscar Freire (Rabobank), or Robbie McEwen (Silence) stop him? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!