Cavendish hoping for better as Tour de France sprint stages return

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Porte sits in 11th spot on the general classification 53 seconds behind his teammate, Belgian Greg van Avermaet, who is clinging on to the yellow jersey, three seconds ahead of Team Sky's Thomas.

Yellow jersey wearer Van Avermaet described the climax as "an awesome finish". "I knew if I could get a gap it would be hard to close from behind".

Three years after finishing second to Alexis Vuillermoz at Mûr-de-Bretagne, the UAE Team Emirates rider won the queen stage of Brittany ahead of another AG2R-La Mondiale, Pierre Latour, to score his second Tour de France stage win five years. This sees the Dutchman concede 1 minute 13 seconds to stage victor Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) and over a minute to his other General Classification rivals.

"(Porte) can be confident after this climb, " Van Avermaet said. Both men could not hold the pace of stage victor Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates).

Great French hope Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and last year's Giro d'Italia victor Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) were the biggest losers among the overall favourites, losing 31 seconds and 53 seconds respectively.

The Dutch rider, 25, was fastest in a competitive final finish, in which the tour's biggest sprinters were all involved. He entered the stage seventh overall and finished it 15th and one second behind Froome.

"Then I had to chase and that effort was fatal".

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Cavendish is chasing five-time Tour victor Eddy Merckx's record of 34 Tour stage wins, and the Dimension Data sprinter's running tally now stands at 30.

Martin dedicated his win to his new team, who he joined from Quick Step after overtures from Sky and BMC in the close season.

A group of around 40 riders including Froome opened up a gap of over a minute, but Martin and the rest hustled back.

A four-man breakaway earned a seven-minute advantage before being swallowed up late.

The course route that took riders along the lovely rolling hills of northwestern France included a pass through the town of Carhaix, which boasts four Breton winners of the Tour, including the great Bernard Hinault.

Dumoulin, the time trial world champion and 2017 Giro d'Italia victor, started the stage 44 seconds ahead of Froome, but finished just behind him.

"The guys were trying to set me up to stay even on time and set up Geraint [Thomas] to get bonuses and maybe the yellow jersey - it's a shame that we didn't do either one of those things", Froome said. After the relatively flat first nine days, the race will head south and into the Alps and then the Pyrenees Mountains.

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