Mark Cavendish wins 11th stage of Tour; Nocentini leads overall

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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SAINT-FARGEAU, France - Mark Cavendish won the 11th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday by beating Tyler Farrar in a sprint finish on a flat stage, and Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy held on to the yellow jersey.
Cavendish earned his second straight stage win and fourth of this year's Tour. The British sprinter finished about half a bike length ahead of Farrar in the 192-kilometre trek from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau.
Cavendish's win saw him take the green jersey and equal British rider Barry Hoban's tally of eight Tour stage wins.
"You can talk all day about how great you are at the dinner table," the 24-year-old Cavendish said. "Success is the biggest motivation for anyone."
Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus finished the stage in third place. Cavendish, winner of four stages in last year's Tour, took the green jersey for best sprinter from Thor Hushovd of Norway, who finished fifth and rides for Canadian-owned Cervelo Test Team.
"I was able to get the jump on Thor and win, so it was perfect," Cavendish said. "It was just beautiful the way the guys could adapt to the situation and deliver me to the sprint."
Cavendish denied that the competition Wednesday was unable to challenge him.
"(That's) a massive, massive insult to say (the other) guys are weak," Cavendish said. "They gave me a massive fight today and came close."
Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong finishing safely in the main pack and remains in third place, with Astana teammate Alberto Contador narrowly ahead of him in second place overall.
The general classification stayed the same, with Nocentini leading Contador by six seconds. Armstrong trails by eight seconds.
"I feel in very good shape," Nocentini said. "I hope to keep the yellow jersey."
Armstrong, who did not stop for reporters after the stage, finished in 54th place. Contador was 43rd.
"Fast start, crashes a plenty, then a breakaway," Armstrong wrote on his Twitter feed. "Ended up being pretty relaxed. Cav wins again. (No.) 4 for him. Congrats to him."
Cavendish, meanwhile, will defend the green jersey on another flat stage Thursday before the race heads into a medium mountain stage on Friday. He failed to complete last year's race.
"Friday is going to be a tough day," Nocentini said.
Two early crashes saw several riders fall - including Nocentini - and gave Belgian rider Johan Van Summeren and Marcin Sapa of Poland the opportunity to break away after about 30 kilometres.
"I was in a fall, but nothing too serious. I didn't hurt myself," Nocentini said. "We crashed after about 30 kilometres. A lot of riders fell, me also. But I managed to get back up and finish calmly."
They were eventually caught by the chasing pack, led by the Team Columbia-Highroad riders, about five kilometres from the finish.
Garmin-Slipstream rider and Victoria native Ryder Hesjadel also crashed on Wednesday. Hesjadel, the lone Canadian at this year's Tour, touched the wheel of a cyclist ahead of him and went down heavily on his right wrist, requiring medical attention with about 45 kilometres to go. Hesjadel finished the stage 156th and is 69th overall.
Cavendish had mixed feelings about equalling Hoban's record.
"He's a nice guy, he talks a lot to me. He's given me some advice," Cavendish said. "But he's also said some things in the press that offended me a little bit. I don't know, it's nice to be able to be (mentioned) in the same sentence of Barry Hoban, anyway."

Organizations: Team Columbia-Highroad

Geographic location: SAINT-FARGEAU, Italy, Vatan Belarus Norway Poland Victoria

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