British sprint specialist Mark Cavendish of the Columbia team won the eighth stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, his second win on this year's tour.
British sprint specialist Mark Cavendish of the Columbia team won the Tour de France eighth stage, a 172.5km ride from Figeac to here on Saturday to record his second win of this year's edition.
The 23-year-old from the Isle of Man's victory - coming after the fifth stage he won on Wednesday - didn't affect the overall standings.
Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen retained the race leader's yellow jersey - six seconds ahead of Australian Cadel Evans - ahead of Sunday's first day in the high mountains.
Ahead of two days of tough climbing in the Pyrenees, the yellow jersey battle took a virtual back seat on this rain-lashed stage leading the peloton gradually towards the foot of the mountains.
Early attacks were kept on a tight leash, and it took the determination of Laurent Lefevre of Bouygues Telecom to finally break the peloton's resistance.
Lefevre found himself riding at the front with no help after the second small climb of the day at Macarou.
The Frenchman was left to negotiate another two medium sized climbs on his own before Euskaltel's Amets Txurruka, Bouygues teammate Jerome Pineau and Christophe Riblon finally joined him.
By the halfway stage the quartet had built a five-minute lead on the peloton, but that advantage began to reduce drastically once the Credit Agricole team of sprinter Thor Hushovd took over the chase.
The Rabobank team of Oscar Freire, also beginning to consider the chance of a stage win, joined in and by the time the peloton had reached the 130km mark the gap was down to less than a minute.
A number of counter attacks came and went in the closing 30 km, including a valiant effort by Milram's Dutch rider Niki Terpstra, who managed to close the gap to 30sec.
However he soon ran out of juice, and dropped back to the peloton.
The four frontrunners meanwhile were battling the onset of fatigue, and the challenging conditions to keep the peloton at bay, and with 19km remaining their advantage was still at 45sec.
However, their brave effort in the desperate weather came to an end allowing Isle of Man star Cavendish to enjoy his moment of glory.
Date created : 2008-07-13