Wiggins nears Tour title; Cavendish wins stage

20 Jul 2012
updated at 11h47
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Bradley Wiggins moved closer to a Tour de France victory, keeping the yellow jersey on a day teammate and British countryman Mark Cavendish won the 18th stage.

Bradley Wiggins (left) maintained his lead in the Tour de France's 18th stage Friday.
Bradley Wiggins (left) maintained his lead in the Tour de France's 18th stage Friday.
Photo: Christophe Ena / AP

Wiggins and Cavendish exchanged a long hug after the finish Friday.

Cavendish, largely overshadowed by his Sky teammate, won a stage for the second time on this Tour. He has 22 stage victories for his career — the same number as seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.

The mostly flat ride along four small hills covered 138 miles from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde, a transitional stage before Saturday's time trial. The three-week race ends Sunday in Paris.

Wiggins, Cavendish and the Sky team made it look easy with an almost textbook sprint setup. With less than a mile to go, Wiggins took the head of the pack and chased down six breakaway riders, then peeled away.

The Sky train motored ahead and Cavendish — showing he's perhaps the world's most explosive rider — whirred around the remaining escapees in the last several hundred yards and won by a couple of bike lengths.

Luis Leon Sanchez, seeing Cavendish speed by, appeared to sigh with resignation. Cavendish was followed by runner-up Matt Goss of Australia and Peter Sagan of Slovakia in third place.

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