Cavendish sprinted to victory after the 141-mile ride between Montargis and Gueugnon which took riders about 5 hours, 37 minutes. The U.S.’s Tyler Farrar was second and Alessandro Petacchi of Italy third.
“It was a really, really hard day, a lot of up and down and a lot of miserable faces,” Cavendish, who rides for the HTC-Columbia team, told Eurosport. He said he will keep “plugging away” in the race for the sprinters’ green jersey after he “messed up” in early stages.
Norway’s Thor Hushovd kept the green jersey as the remaining 188 riders prepare to enter the mountains tomorrow with a stage that ends with a nine-mile climb to Station des Rousses, a ski resort. Ten riders have dropped out, mostly with injuries.
Seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong and other race contenders for the more prestigious yellow jersey finished in the peloton today. Cancellara of Team Saxo Bank remains in the lead by 23 seconds over Britain’s Geraint Thomas of Team Sky. Australia’s two-time runner-up Cadel Evans of BMC Racing is third, 16 seconds further back.
Defending champion Alberto Contador is ninth overall and Armstrong is 18th.
Garmin-Transitions riders sought to lead Farrar to victory only for Columbia’s Mark Renshaw and Cavendish to tail them and pull out in front over the last 100 meters.
“It was straightforward from there,” said Cavendish. He rose to fifth in the green jersey standings after his 12th Tour de France stage win in three years.