Mark Cavendish Battles to Fifth Stage Win in 2009 Tour de France
Mark Cavendish charged to his fifth stage win for Team Columbia-HTC in the 2009 Tour de France winning stage 19 earlier today. Cavendish's victory is the ninth of his career in the Tour, making the 24-year-old Columbia-HTC pro the British rider with the highest number of stages wins ever in the Tour de France.
Already the winner of stages 2, 3, 10 and 11 in the 2009 Tour de France, the star sprinter was the fastest of a peloton which had split apart on the final Cote de L'Escrinet climb close to the finish at Aubenas. Second was Norwegian God of Thunder Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) and third Germany's Gerald Ciolek (Team Milram).
"I'm really, really happy. It was a beautiful, beautiful win," Cavendish said afterwards. "We really didn't have this stage put down as one that would end in a bunch sprint, but we came through all the same. At the team meeting I told the guys that if we got to the climb all together and I could hang on, then I would do my absolute best to win. Half the team supported me all the way to the climb and half the team were there with me on the descent that followed and through to the finish. They were amazing, particularly if you consider that Saturday's a really hard mountain stage. [Columbia-HTC teammate] Tony Martin led me out perfectly, even though it was a very tough uphill finish, but I did it."
Cavendish is now just two days away from completing the Tour de France for the first time in his career, and he aims to round off the race with a final stage win in Paris on the Champs Elysées on Sunday.
"I had a lot of morale after making it over the climb, but I couldn't quite make the sprint like I wanted to. I am satisfied to be there in the end even though I didn't win," Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) said. "I kept the green jersey and the fight is very close. There are only 25 points between us (he and Cavendish), so there will be a fight all the way to Paris. I know (Cavendish) will be fighting for the victory on the Champs-Elysees, but I want to win there too."
Hushovd now leads Cavendish, 260 points to 235 points, with just two stages to go.
Alberto Contador (Team Astana) maintained his overall Tour de France lead before tomorrow's decisive climb up the mythical Mont Ventoux.
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