Eurosport - Fri, 09 Jul 16:00:00 2010
Britain's Mark Cavendish secured a second Tour de France stage win in as many days, after a sprint finish on stage six in Gueugnon.
In a mirror image of his stage five victory, Cavendish's HTC-Columbia team-mate Mark Renshaw again provided the perfect platform for victory, bursting past Garmin-Transitions' Tyler Farrar with Cavendish tucked in behind.
Farrar held off the advancing Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre-Franese Vini, with both teams struggling against a wicked side-wind at the end of the 227.5km stage, the longest of the tour.
Team Katusha's Robbie McEwen shook off his recent ailments to reach a competitive fourth spot, with Gerald Ciolek of Team Milram completed the top five.
Cavendish's main rival for the green jersey, Thor Hushovd, finished 10th and retains his place at the top of the points classification standings.
Tour de France debutant Matheiu Perget of Caisse D'Espargne led an early breakaway right from the off, and was followed by Sebastian Lang and Ruben Perez Moreno, of Omega Pharma-Lotto and Euskatel-Euskadi respectively.
The Columbia-led peloton had halved the gap with 75km remaining of the stage, with the riders averaging 40kmh in the suffocating heat of central France, and were within a minute of the trio of escapees with 25km remaining.
Dimitri Champion (AG2R-la-Mondiale) and Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) attacked the waning breakaway, swelling its numbers to five, while the teams in peloton began shuffling their sprinters towards the front of the bunch ahead of the finish.
Perget continued to attack, however, leaving the four other escapees in his wake, but failed to maintain his pace in the searing heat, and fell back into the group once more.
The peloton swallowed up the escapees with 10km remaining, after leading for over 200km, and the Garmin-Transitions and Lampre-Farnese sprinters took up commanding positions at the head of the field as the peloton snaked through a tight right turn, a hard left and a 500m sprint to the finish.
With Columbia's train floundering around the Lampre-Farnese crew, Renshaw and Cavendish sat on the wheels of the Garmin-Transitions squad, before Renshaw made his move and the Manxman sprinted off his team-mate's wheel to comfortably beat Farrar to the line.
The win sees Cavendish move closer to Hushovd for top-spot in the points classification but, with the Tour moving into the mountains on Saturday, the fate of the green jersey is still very much in the hands of Team Cervelo's Norwegian.
The general classification remains unchanged, with Team Saxo Bank's Fabian Cancellara holding on to top-spot, but competition for the yellow jersey should spark into life on Saturday, with a 165.5km mid-mountains stage between Tournus and Station des Rousses, before a 189km mountain stage on Sunday.