Stage 19 - Cav Takes Fifth Stage Win
Oakley’s Mark Cavendish won his fifth stage of the 2009 Tour de France on Friday, while Alberto Contador remained in the overall lead and Oakley’s Lance Armstrong picked up some time on his rivals.
Cavendish also set a British record for total Tour stage wins, as he now has nine
- one better than Barry Hoban. The Columbia-HTC rider finished the 178 kilometer 19th stage in three hours, 50 minutes, 35 seconds, winning it with a long sprint to the line after the peloton caught escapees Alessandro Ballan and Laurent Lefevre only a couple kilometers from the end.
It was an impressive performance, considering Friday’s stage had three categorized climbs, including a Category 2 ascent close to the finish. He won the stage ahead of Norwegian Thor Hushovd (OAKLEY), who came in second and retained the green point jersey. German Gerald Ciolek was third.
Cavendish and the other sprinters finished in a group of 12 riders four seconds ahead of the main field, which included yellow jersey-holder Contador and other general classification contenders: Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, Britain’s Bradley Wiggins and Germany’s Andreas Kloden.
However, Contador’s Astana teammate Armstrong was in the lead group and picked up four seconds in the overall standings, which may help him hold on to a podium position.
While Contador still holds a lead of 4:11 over the second-placed Schleck (OAKLEY), Armstrong moved within 5:21 of Contador in third. Perhaps more importantly, Armstrong widened his lead to 15 seconds over fourth-placed Wiggins, who trails Contador by 5:36. Astana’s Kloden remains fifth in the overall, 5:38 behind.
The Tour is now set up for a showdown in Saturday’s Stage 20, a 167-kilometer trek that has five climbs and finishes atop Mont Ventoux, a 21.1-km climb that may well shuffle the overall standings. The Tour ends on Sunday with the traditional ride along the Champs Elysees in Paris.