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Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Saturday, 22 August 2009 17:52 UK

Cavendish takes Irish stage win

Mark Cavendish
Cavendish showed his remarkable sprinting ability again on Saturday

Mark Cavendish earned the 49th professional win of his career with victory in Saturday's second stage of the Tour of Ireland.

The 24-year-old Manxman, winner of six stages in the Tour de France, won a sprint finish into Killarney.

Yorkshire rider Russell Downing retained the overall lead for Candi TV going into Sunday's final stage.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is in 20th place, 26 seconds off top spot.

Downing leads Alexander Kolobnev by five seconds going into the final stage with the Russian's Saxo Bank team-mate Matti Breschel a further two seconds back in third.

606: DEBATE
LSR

Donegal rider Philip Deignan is an impressive fourth - only 10 seconds behind Downing - while last year's overall winner, Italian Marco Pinotto is a further second back in fifth.

Columbia rider Cavendish held off Rabobank rider Michael Van Staeyen and Stuart O'Grady in a mass sprint to clinch Saturday's win.

The Olympian paid tribute to his team and said: "It's the first time I've gone really deep since July (in the Tour de France).

"It's always good to win, and though it was a tough finish we managed to take control of things with two kilometres to go.

"It was a team win, one guy crosses the line with his arms in the air, but it's a success for everybody."

Armstrong played down his chances of overall victory in Sunday's final stage from Bantry to Cork City.

If there are showers and the weather turns bad, Sunday could be a tough day

Lance Armstrong

The 122-mile stage ends with a circuit that includes three climbs of the steep St Patrick's Hill in the city.

"It's a hard climb and there should be bodies everywhere," said Armstrong.

"It's one of the few things I remember from when I last raced in Ireland in 1992.

"If there are showers and the weather turns bad, it could be a tough day, a classic day.

"I'll try and stay in the front but it won't be easy."

Armstrong is using his last race of the year to promote his Livestrong cancer foundation.

The seven-time Tour de France winner is competing for the last time with the Astana team and ends his season this weekend.

Armstrong has not raced on the road since finishing third in the Tour de France behind team-mate and rival Alberto Contador.



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see also
Armstrong finds Irish going tough
21 Aug 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong in Tour of Ireland return
21 Aug 09 |  Northern Ireland
Hundreds on Armstrong Tweet ride
18 Aug 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Armstrong to launch new US team
23 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong hints at 2010 Tour race
12 Jul 09 |  Cycling


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