Bradley Wiggins, who is bidding to become the first British winner of the Tour de France, has the leader’s yellow jersey as the race enters its final weekend.
Mark Cavendish won the 18th stage yesterday in a sprint at the end of the 222.5-kilometer (138-mile) leg between Blagnac and Brive-la-Gaillarde.
The British rider, a Team Sky teammate of Wiggins, finished the course in 4 hours, 54 minutes, racing past Nicolas Roche in the last 300 meters.
“I haven’t done anything this tour, so I saved so much energy,” Cavendish said in a televised interview. “I knew I’d be able to go long today and no one would be able to pass me. I felt really good today.”
It was the 22nd Tour de France stage win for Cavendish, tying him with Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade. He trails Andre Leducq, a rider from the 1930s whose 25 career stage wins puts him in third place. Eddy Merckx is the leader with 34 stage wins, followed by Bernard Hinault’s 28.
Wiggins has a 2 minute, 5 second lead over teammate Chris Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali in third place overall, with only today’s time trial between Bonneval and Chartres and the ceremonial ride tomorrow to Paris remaining.