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Cavendish deflects glory as Roche revs up

A wide smile returned to the face of Mark Cavendish after the Briton won the 12th Tour de France stage of his career yesterday to revive his hopes of winning the green jersey.

Tears greeted Cavendish's 11th Tour win on Thursday, but yesterday was a far more joyous occasion as the 25-year-old from the Isle of Man won the 227.5-kilometre stage from Montargis to Gueugnon.

Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin-Transitions) was second and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese) third, while the general classification standings altered slightly with a split in the peloton in the finishing straight.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) was the only general classification contender to benefit, trimming three seconds off his deficit to race leader Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank) to lie 20 seconds behind and have the chance of taking the yellow jersey on today's 165.5km seventh stage in the low mountains from Tournus to Station des Rousses.

Ireland's Nicolas Roche finished 42nd on the stage, in the middle of the bunch and held on to 11th overall.

"Saturday is the first big day and I'm really excited," he said. "I'm feeling great. I'm really focused. It's strange because I know I've trained well, eaten well and I am well prepared. I haven't made a mistake all week, but I'm worried.

"I've often been in moderate form and then gone better than I thought, but now I'm just worried that everything seems to be going too well."

Cavendish played down his feat, insisting, once again, he was merely finishing off the efforts of the team.

He said: "Whenever I get asked the question 'what do you want from cycling?' I say if there's a book of the great riders, I want to be in that book when my career's finished.

"I love this sport and that's what it means to me. But it's hard to take that now. I'm not a guy with eight guys working for me, I'm the ninth part of that machine. I just finish off the incredible work those guys do."