TOUR DE FRANCE (5-27 July) BBC coverage: Daily text commentary, reports and gallery on the BBC Sport website and live audio commentary from BBC Radio 5 Live
Cavendish celebrates on the podium after his stunning victory
Britain's Mark Cavendish claimed his first Tour de France stage victory after a thrilling sprint finish.
The 23-year-old beat Spaniard Oscar Freire and German Erik Zabel in a bunch sprint to become the first Briton since David Millar in 2002 to win a stage.
Stefan Schumacher retained the overall leader's yellow jersey, while Millar remains in third, 12 seconds behind.
"It's the biggest thing to have happened to me and to do it so young, it's a massive thing," said Cavendish.
"I came here with the intention of winning one (stage), I would have gone home disappointed if I hadn't."
Cavendish, who rides for the Columbia team, has been making his mark on the cycling world this year.
Earlier this year the Manxman won two stages of the Giro d'Italia and in August he heads out to Beijing as part of Team GB's Olympic cycling squad.
The 23-year-old will partner Bradley Wiggins in the men's Madison and, having won the event at the World Championships in 2005 and 2008, is widely tipped to return home with a medal.
I think there's still a mentality in Great Britain, where people don't appreciate they have people that are so good
In fact, his Olympic commitments could mean that Cavendish does not complete this year's Tour de France and he could pull out once the race enters the mountains.
Wednesday's 232km (144.2 mile) stage from Cholet to Châteauroux was the longest in this year's Tour and was led almost from start to finish by three breakaway riders.
The French trio of Lilian Jegou, Florent Brard and national champion Nicolas Vogondy opened up a gap of more than eight minutes, which was slowly whittled away by the chasing peloton.
Vogondy broke away from his compatriots in the final 1.5km, only to be overhauled by the sprinters around 30 metres from the line.
Cavendish, who was led out by his German team-mate Gerald Ciolek, held off late attacks from Thor Hushovd, Freire and Zabel, and pulled away from his rivals in the final metres to claim glory after almost five-and-a-half hours in the saddle.
Asked afterwards if he considered himself to be the fastest sprinter in the world, Cavendish said: "When you have a team like I have, it is impossible not to be the best.
"I think there's still a mentality in Great Britain, where people don't appreciate they have people that are so good.
"Although I've won quite a lot - this is my eighth victory this year and I had 11 last year - it was only a Tour victory I was still to achieve.
"The team worked selflessly and committed all week and today we had to top the podium."
Cavendish, who lies 97th overall, became only the ninth Briton to win a stage in Le Tour and the first since Millar took the stage into Beziers six years ago - Millar's win in 2003 was removed from his record at his own request when he confessed to using EPO in 2004.
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