Cavendish takes 6th stage for 2nd straight Tour win

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

GUEUGNON, France -- Mark Cavendish made it two straight Tour de France stage victories Friday, leading a sprint for the line as the main title contenders finished in a closely trailing pack.

The 25-year-old native of Britain's Isle of Man raised his hands in celebration at the end of the hot, mostly flat 141.3-mile sixth stage from Montargis to Gueugnon.

The HTC Columbia rider earned his 12th career Tour stage victory and fifth in all races this year -- clocking 5 hours, 37 minutes, 42 seconds to edge Tyler Farrar of the U.S. and Alessandro Petacchi of Italy.

The main title contenders crossed 3 seconds after Cavendish. Defending champion Alberto Contador was 28th, seven-time champion Lance Armstrong was 38th, and overall race leader Fabian Cancellara was 41st.

The top of the standings didn't change: Cancellara retained the yellow jersey he has worn everyday but one this year, Spaniard Contador stayed ninth overall, and Armstrong kept his 18th spot.

Cadel Evans of Australia, a two-time Tour runner-up and the highest-placed potential title contender, is third -- 39 seconds behind Cancellara.

The heat appeared to be taking a toll on the riders as Carlos Barredo of Spain and Rui Costa of Portugal got into a fight after the finish. The cause of the fracas was not immediately clear, but video footage posted on the website of sports daily L'Equipe showed Barredo of the Quick Step team charging toward Costa and attempting to strike him over the head with a bike wheel.

They were eventually separated and Tour organizers fined each of them about $190 (200 Swiss Francs).

Cavendish's victory came a day after he broke down in tears after winning Stage 5, experiencing a sense of redemption after failing to meet expectations he would win a stage earlier in the race.

"I'm really happy. I'm speaking better today because I was pretty emotional yesterday," Cavendish said.