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Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 18:22 UK

Cavendish grabs Swiss stage win

Mark Cavendish
Cavendish looks in top form ahead of the Tour in France next month

British sprint king Mark Cavendish stormed to victory in the third stage of the Tour of Switzerland on Monday.

The Columbia team rider, 24, ended the 195.4km ride ahead of Spaniard Oscar Freire of Rabobank and Norway's Thor Hushovd after a small bunch sprint.

Swiss star Fabian Cancellara, who rides for Saxo-Bank, maintained the overall lead ahead of the fourth stage, a 195km ride from Biasca to Staefa.

Columbia's second successive victory follows Bernhard Eisel's win on Sunday.

Isle of Man-based Cavendish, widely acknowledged as the world's fastest sprinter, withdrew from last month's Giro d'Italia after winning three stages to aid his preparation for next month's Tour de France.

"It was another good victory for us and yet again my team-mates gave me a perfect lead out," Cavendish said.

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"I had four guys leading me out in the final three kilometres and everything went right. Thor got the jump on me in the final 300 metres but I was able to beat him pretty well.

"It's the second consecutive win for the team so it's a great race for us. This is the first time I've ridden the Tour of Switzerland but I like it."

A group of four surged in front of the main bunch by three minutes following the 21km climb to the 1940m high Lukmanierpass but still had 70km to complete the stage.

Enrico Gasparotto of Lampre, part of the leading quartet, threatened Cancellara's overall lead, which encouraged Switzerland's Saxo Bank rider to increase the pace and join ranks with the sprinters' teams in the ensuing chase.

The frontrunners worked hard to keep hold of their lead, but with 4km remaining, the peloton soon caught up.

Cancellara impressed in 10th spot with the 28-year-old from Berne maintaining his 22-second lead on the Czech Republic's defending champion Roman Kreuziger of the Liquigas team.

Germany's Andreas Kloden of Astana sits in third place, 25 seconds further back, while another overall victory contender, Kim Kirchen of Luxembourg, is sixth, 34 seconds adrift.

The nine-day Tour of Switzerland ends in Berne on Sunday before the French classic gets under way on on 4 July.

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see also
Cavendish eyes Tour sprint crown
01 Jun 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong confident ahead of Tour
31 May 09 |  Cycling
Team pulls Cavendish out of Giro
22 May 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish takes third Giro stage
22 May 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish and Gillings win awards
14 Apr 09 |  Other sport...
Praise for Cavendish Tour success
19 Jul 08 |  Isle of Man


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