CHATEAUROUX, France, (Reuters) – Mark Cavendish powered to his second stage victory in the Tour de France in a crash-marred seventh stage from Le Mans which saw fellow Briton Bradley Wiggins forced out of the race with a broken collarbone yesterday.
Wiggins was involved in a multiple pile-up some 40 kilometres from the finish in Chateauroux and was already in hospital when Cavendish won the bunch sprint.
Cavendish was set-up perfectly by his HTC Highroad team mates and finished superbly to follow up his win in stage five and take his Tour de France tally to 17 since winning in Chateauroux three years ago.
The Manxman easily checked Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi and Germany’s Andre Greipel, who finished second and third respectively.
With Wiggins in the crash were Americans Tyler Farrar and Chris Horner, who lay for a while in a ditch before making it back on his bike, as well as Frenchman Remy Pauriol who also abandoned like the British champion.
Fourth overall in 2009, Wiggins was seen as a leading Tour contender this year after winning the Dauphine Libere in June. His withdrawal came a day after Norway’s Edvald Boasson-Hagen claimed a first Tour stage victory for Team Sky.
“It’s obviously a devastating day for the team. He was in great shape,” said Sky’s team manager Dave Brailsford said.
Before the sudden end to the Olympic pursuit champion’s race, 2005 world champion Tom Boonen of Belgium also said farewell to the Tour.
Involved in a crash two days ago, the 2007 green jersey winner finally called it quits after 90 kilometres.
The collective crash caused the peloton to split and American Levi Leipheimer was the leading favourite trapped in the 80-man second part of the pack, finishing 3:06 behind.
The Tour tackles its first serious climbs on Saturday in a 189-kms eighth stage between Aigurande and Super-Besse.