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Cavendish wins his third stage as doping rocks Tour

7/17/2008


NARBONNE, France -- Briton Mark Cavendish
of Team Columbia won the 12th stage of the Tour de France, a
105-mile ride from Lavelanet to Narbonne on Thursday.

Cadel Evans held on to the yellow jersey as he maintained the overall race lead.

The stage started without the Saunier-Duval team, which pulled
out of the race after it was revealed that Italian Riccardo
Ricco had tested positive for the banned blood-boosting drug EPO.

Cavendish led a group sprint to the finish, completing the 105-mile ride through rolling hills and plains from Lavelanet to Narbonne.

"Every time it's special," said Cavendish.

Cavendish, a Team Columbia rider who had never won a stage before this year, was followed by Sebastien Chavanel of France in second place, with Gert Steegmans of Belgium third.

Evans, trailing in the main pack, leads Frank Schleck of Luxembourg by 1 second and Christian Vande Velde of the United States by 38.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.