Cycling: Mark Cavendish takes lead in Qatar after second straight stage win

Briton has a strong chance of winning the overall race

Mark Cavendish claimed a second successive stage win to take the overall lead of the Tour of Qatar, and with just two flat stages remaining, the Briton has a strong chance of clinching the second overall victory of his career.

Already victorious at the same Al Khor peninsula finish last year, Cavendish used his local knowledge to be perfectly placed as the bunch made a 180-degree turn round a huge roundabout with a kilometre to go, avoiding a dangerous late crash in the process.

Cavendish was swamped on Tuesday's finish and only able to go clear thanks to his double acceleration, first to gain speed and then to outpower his rivals – a weapon in his armour he rarely has to use.

This time could not have been more different. Using an Italian rival's wake to stay at the head of the pack, with 200 metres left to go the Briton opened up the throttle on the left-hand side of the road with an intensity that saw him shake off the field and which only the young, inexperienced Dutch rider Barry Markus tried to match. But Markus's effort only took him to within half a bike length of Cavendish's back wheel and a creditable second place as the Briton sailed across the line with his third victory of the year comfortably in the bag.

Already the points leader, Cavendish's 10-second time bonus from the win enabled him to claim the overall lead by one second ahead of American Brent Bookwalter.

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