Mark Cavendish hugged his Columbia team mates after winning his third stage at the Tour de France. Yet again they had protected him during the stage and lead him out in the final kilometers so that he could step up and win yet again.

Cavendish had to look after himself in the final kilometre when a corner reshuffled the pack but he quickly made sure he was on Gert Steegmans?s wheel and then blasted to the line before any of his rivals could start their sprint.

?I was waiting, waiting and waiting for some one to go but nobody did, so I went at 200 out,? Cavendish said.

?It was a little bit harder than the other sprints to be honest because it was a block headwind and it had been windy all day. I?m also a little tired but I was still the fastest across the line. Instead of winning by a few bike lengths I only won by a bike length this time, so it shows how tired I am.?

Cavendish admitted it the hardest win of his three at the Tour de France.

?For sure it was. It was really windy all day, really fast at the end and really hargy bargy. I had to make big efforts to move up but a win is a win, it doesn?t matter if it?s easy or hard. If you?re first across the line that?s what matters.?

?It makes me very proud to be the first British rider to win three stages in a major Tour. It?s nice that I won them in very different weather conditions, too, that makes it more special. That also shows just how good my team are at handling all sorts of sprints and all sorts of situations. I got dropped off on the perfect wheel.”

Asked whether he thought the reason he won was because he’s fastest in the last 100 metres, Cavendish said: “Yes, I think you?re right but it was so windy at the end that the team had to do what they had to do, but they were cunning. I got dropped off but we got back up to the front again. It wasn’t the most ideal finish but it just shows how well they adapt.”

?I?m glad I could get over the Pyrenees for my team mates especially. You?ve seen how hard they?ve worked in the last few weeks and you saw how hard they worked today. It?s just so nice to get another one. I have had a few problems with injuries because of that, but that?s the Tour. Anything can happen. You?ve got to take the pleasure with the pain.?

CAVENDISH ON RICCO?S EPO POSITIVE

Cavendish?s third stage victory is likely to be overshadowed by Riccardo Ricco?s positive test for the new form of EPO but he said it proves the anti-doping tests are working.

“I think it’s a good thing [that Ricco was caught]. I believe that changes are happening. Obviously it’s a cloud over what’s been a pretty decent Tour de France but every time someone gets caught it’s somebody else who’s not getting away with it,” he said.

?I?m here for the sporting side of the Tour, not the political side. I?m here to win. But I can see it?s a massive disappointment for the organisers, even if it proves the tests work and at least it?s another person caught. I woke up this morning and thought I want to win today, and when I heard the news I still thought I want to win. From the sporting side it doesn’t affect me.”

Cavendish is targeting the Madison at the Beijing Olympic Games and has already finished the Giro d?Italia but refused to rule out finishing the Tour de France and winning the final sprint on the Champs Elysees.

“I’ve thought about it of course, it would be a great thing to do,? he revealed.

“I don?t know how far I?m going to go this time round but I?ve got a long career ahead of me, and I?d like to come back some time to the Tour and fight for the green jersey. In any case for now I?m happy to keep going day by day and see how far I can get.?



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 11: Arvesen wins
Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second
Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees
Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse
Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage
Stage six: Ricco storms to win
Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win
Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead
Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break
Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint
Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary
Cavendish battles through Pyrenees
Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]
Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour
Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]
Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]
Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders
David Millar: the dope controls are working
Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour
Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit
Doping back in Tour de France headlines
Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]
Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]
Millar to go for yellow [stage six]
Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]
Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win
Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]
Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]
Who is Romain Feillu?
Cavendish disappointed with stage two result
Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey
Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?
Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec
Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win
Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage 11
Stage 11
Stage 10
Stage nine
Stage eight
Stage seven
Stage six
Stage five
Stage four
Stage three
Stage two
Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part three
Life at the Tour part two
Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

Tour de France 2008 homepage>>
News and features>>
All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>
Day by day summary>>
Route & stages>>
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About the Tour>>