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Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 16:21 UK
Tour de France 2008

Mark Cavendish celebrates winning his third stage of this year's Tour de France
Cavendish has produced a series of sensational sprint finishes

Mark Cavendish made history by becoming the first Briton to win three stages of the same Tour de France, with an electric sprint finish in Narbonne.

After Cavendish's Team Columbia had moved to the front at the end of the 168km stage 12, other teams looked to have outmanoeuvred the Manxman.

But the 23-year-old found a line through the bunch and used his explosive pace to sprint clear.

Australian Cadel Evans retains the yellow jersey as overall leader.

"I'm still fastest across the line," said Cavendish.

"It is so nice to get another stage win. It was really windy all day and the pace was really fast but a win is a win.

"This was the hardest of all three sprints. It was really fast all day. I'm glad I could do that for my team-mates especially for how hard they've worked in the last few days."

The Team Columbia rider also triumphed in sprint finishes on stages five and eight.

And he has now exceeded the achievements of another British sprinter, Barry Hoban, who won two stages in both 1969 and 1973.

Cavendish has beaten fellow sprinters Thor Hushovd, Erik Zabel and Oscar Freire to claim his victories and has a strong claim to be the Tours' fastest sprinter.

The Manxman's previous stage wins came before the Pyrenees.

Cavendish's toil through the mountains included a last-placed finish and a collision with a football - and his stage 12 triumph is reward for his persistence.

He also moved to fifth in the green jersey points competition, 41 behind current leader Freire.

Thursday's stage was overshadowed by the news that Saunier Duval rider Riccardo Ricco had become the latest Tour rider to test positive for the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).


The 24-year-old Italian won two mountain stages of this year's Tour de France and was sitting ninth in the overall standings.

But Saunier Duval withdrew all their riders from the stage and have now pulled out of the race.

As a consequence of Ricco's withdrawal, Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas took the white jersey for the best young rider and German Sebastian Lang of Gerolsteiner the polka dot jersey for best climber.

French riders Samuel Dumoulin and Arnaud Gerard broke away from the peloton after 25km of Thursday's relatively flat stage and stayed away until the final 10km.

On a flat transitional stage between the Pyrenees and the Alps, the bunch was happy to let them remain out in front, though the duo were joined by Spain's Juan Jose Oroz with 50km remaining.

Yellow jersey holder Evans was content to stay in the peloton and monitor Frank Schleck, whom the Australian leads by just one second.

The peloton, making the most of a strong tailwind, caught the leading trio in the closing stages before Cavendish surged to victory.

Stage 12 results, Lavelanet to Narbonne (168 km):

1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Columbia) 3h 40m 52s
2. Sebastien Chavanel (Fra/Francaise des Jeux) same time
3. Gert Steegmans (Bel/Quick-Step) same time
4. Erik Zabel (Ger/Milram ) same time
5. Oscar Freire (Spa/Rabobank ) same time
6. Francesco Chicchi (Ita/Liquigas ) same time
7. Thor Hushovd (Nor/Credit Agricole ) same time
8. Leonardo Duque (Col/Cofidis ) same time
9. Julian Dean (NZ/Garmin - Chipotle) same time
10. Heinrich Haussler (Ger/Gerolsteiner) same time

Selected others:
49. David Millar (GB/Team Garmin-Chipotle) same time

Overall standings (after 12 stages):

1. Cadel Evans (Aus/Silence - Lotto) 50 hours, 23 minutes, 5 seconds
2. Frank Schleck (Lux/Team CSC) :01.
3. Christian Vandevelde (US/Garmin - Chipotle) :38.
4. Bernhard Kohl (Aus/Gerolsteiner) :46.
5. Denis Menchov (Rus/Rabobank) :57.
6. Carlos Sastre (Spa/Team CSC) :1:28.
7. Kim Kirchen (Lux/Col) :1:56.
8. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus/AG2R) :2:32.
9. Mikel Astarloza (Spa/Euskaltel) :3:51.
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Liquigas) :4:18.

Selected others:
47. David Millar (GB/Team Garmin-Chipotle) :24:32
147. Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Columbia) 2:27:26

see also
Stage 12 as it happened
17 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Spanish rider Nevado fails test
16 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Australia's Evans claims yellow
14 Jul 08 |  Cycling

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