Tour de France: Cavendish equals record with eighth win

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The Independent Online

Mark Cavendish's fast-track to sporting greatness continued apace yesterday as he powered to a fourth stage victory at the 2009 Tour, his second straight win and a return to the green points jersey.

Yesterday's narrow finish in the tiny village of Saint-Fargeau was the type that least favours a pure sprinter like Cavendish, with a constant slight uphill gradient in the last 500 metres. However, the Briton's Columbia-HTC squad have turned taking him to a position where he can sprint for the finish into the finest of arts, and yesterday what little opposition there was crumbled almost immediately.

The only real differences to his previous victories were that Cavendish left his final acceleration for the line a little later and his winning margin over the American Tyler Farrar was – for once – less than a bike length rather than the usual two or three.

Cavendish played down the importance of his return to leading in the points competition: "My objectives remain the same. It'd be nice to take it all the way to Paris, but I've got no intention of changing my strategy."

His total of eight Tour stage victories now equals the British record, held by Welsh sprinter Barry Hoban. "It's nice be able to be spoken in the same sentence as one of the great British pros," Cavendish said. "He's a good guy even if he has said some things in the press I didn't particularly like."

If Cavendish objected to some of Hoban's comments, the Manxman himself was at the centre of a minor media-induced scandal when a story published in yesterday's L'Equipe claimed that he had a habit of insulting the French and France. "I didn't say those things and I hope the person who wrote it feels guilty," Cavendish insisted after his victory.

Cavendish's opportunity for a third straight win comes today in the 211-kilometre stage from Tonnerre to Vittel.