Mark Cavendish charged to his fifth stage win for Columbia-HTC in the 2009 Tour de France on Friday. Cavendish's victory is the ninth of his career in the Tour, making the 24-year-old Columbia-HTC pro the British rider with the highest number of stages wins ever in the race. The victory also brings the Columbia-HTC men's 2009 tally to 60 wins.
Already the winner of stages two, three, 10 and 11 in this year's Tour, the star sprinter was the fastest of a peloton which had split apart on the final Cote de L'Escrinet climb close to the finish at Aubenas. Second was Thor Hushovd of Norway and third Germany's Gerald Ciolek.
"I'm really, really happy. It was a beautiful, beautiful win," Cavendish said afterwards. "We really didn't have this stage put down as one that would end in a bunch sprint, but we came through all the same. At the team meeting I told the guys that if we got to the climb all together and I could hang on, then I would do my absolute best to win. Half the team supported me all the way to the climb and half the team were there with me on the descent that followed and through to the finish. They were amazing, particularly if you consider that Saturday's a really hard mountain stage. [Columbia-HTC teammate] Tony Martin led me out perfectly, even though it was a very tough uphill finish, but I did it."
Cavendish is now just two days away from completing the Tour de France for the first time in his career, and he aims to round off the race with a final stage win on the Champs Elysées on Sunday.