Cavendish, a Briton with Team Sky, took his 21st Tour stage win at the end of a flat 129-mile ride in Belgium between Vise and Tournai.
Fabian Cancellara, a Swiss rider with the RadioShack- Nissan-Trek team, retained a seven-second lead over Bradley Wiggins and Sylvain Chavanel.
Wiggins, a teammate of Cavendish who’s seeking to become the Tour’s first British winner, and defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia are the bookmakers’ favorites to win the 99th edition of the race.
Evans remains 10 seconds behind Wiggins.
Anthony Roux, a French rider with FDJ-Big Mat, made a breakaway from the main pack of riders after 14 miles and was joined by Team Saxo Bank’s Michael Morkov and Europcar’s Christophe Kern.
Morkov and Kern were caught by the peloton with about 18 miles left. Roux went it alone for nine more miles, balancing his forearms on the handlebars after hurting his left wrist in a fall yesterday.
The 20-stage race crosses into France tomorrow with a hilly stage between Orchies and Boulogne-sur-Mer.
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