MONTAUBAN (France) • Mark Cavendish earned his third stage win of this year's Tour de France yesterday, powering past Marcel Kittel in a frantic sprint finish to the 190.5-kilometre Stage Six race from Arpajon-sur-Cere to Montauban.
The 31-year-old Dimension Data rider pipped his German Etixx-Quick Step rival to claim his 29th all-time stage win. His compatriot Dan McClay of Pro Continental came in third.
Cavendish thus moves ahead of Bernard Hinault to become second outright in the list of all-time Tour de France stage wins, only five short of Eddy Merckx's mark.
He said after the race: "I was a little too far back, it was just carnage in the final section of the race.
"I wanted Kittel's wheel, I kept looking for his wheel.
"I knew that (Kittel's team) QuickStep would get it right on the final part. I knew it would be right to go early because it's slightly downhill.
"I just went, I really wanted it. I felt Kittel coming on my side again at the end and just did to him what he's done to me the last three years."
With Cavendish and Kittel both winning stages at this Tour, the heat is on for Andre Greipel and his Lotto Soudal team, who have yet to win a stage at this year's Tour despite being the dominant sprinter a year ago, winning four stages including the last on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
With the mountain stages fast approaching from today, Greipel has cut a frustrated figure, never yet managing to get himself into a position to truly threaten.
Greg van Avermaet leads the Tour overall, ahead by more than five minutes in the standings.