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Cavendish wins to equal British mark

MARK Cavendish won the 11th stage of the Tour de France yesterday to equal Barry Hoban's British record of eight victories in the world's greatest race.

The Isle of Man rider outsprinted American Tyler Farrar and Yauheni Hutarovich of Belarus at the end of a 192-kilometer flat ride from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau to take his fourth win in this year's Tour.

Hoban won his eight stages from 1967 to 1975, the last at the age of 35, while the 24-year-old Cavendish is taking part in only his second Tour.

Italian Rinaldo Nocentini retained the overall leader's yellow jersey six seconds ahead of Spain's Alberto Contador with seven-time champion Lance Armstrong of the United States in third place eight seconds off the pace.

Briton Bradley Wiggins slipped back to fifth after the race jury decided to cancel a 15-second gap between two bunches in the final part of Tuesday's stage.

Yesterday's stage was marred by two early crashes that allowed Belgian Johan van Summeren and Marcin Sapa of Poland to break away after 24 kilometers.

The duo built a maximum lead of 4 minutes 35 seconds before the sprinters' team used their collective force to rein in the fugitives.

Cavendish's Columbia teammates set up the perfect lead-out for their sprinter, who resisted Farrar's late burst of speed to claim the green jersey for the points classification off Norwegian Thor Hushovd's shoulders.

Meanwhile, the International Cycling Union will decide today whether to lift a radio ban for the 13th stage of the Tour.

"(Tour organizers) ASO have asked me whether it is possible to allow earpieces on Friday's stage," UCI President Pat McQuaid said yesterday.

"I have asked my managing committee to reply on the issue and the decision will be announced tomorrow (today)."

An experiment to ban all communications between riders and their team cars took place in Tuesday's 10th stage.

But most teams, who oppose the radio ban, rode the stage at a leisurely pace in protest against the decision.

"We did not ask for the ban to be lifted," ASO General Manager Yann Le Moenner said before the start of the 11th stage yesterday.

"The UCI asked us if we'd agree to have the earpieces back in Friday's stage and we said why not," he added, noting that the 10th stage showed teams opposed the ban.

"It was useless to try and impose a decision on the teams against their will," he added.

The protest against the ban was led by Armstrong's Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel who issued a petition signed by 14 of the 20 teams on the Tour.


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