Contador still in yellow

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, Last Updated: 1:50 PM ET

BORDEAUX, France -- Britain's Mark Cavendish won a sprint to the finish to capture Stage 18 of the 2010 Tour de France and Spain's Alberto Contador remained the overall leader of cycling's most prestigious event.

Cavendish made his move in the final kilometre and easily finished ahead of the pack to claim his fourth stage win of this year's Tour. He finished Friday's 198-km jaunt from Salies-de-Bearn to Bordeaux in a time of four hours, 37 minutes and nine seconds for his 14th career stage victory.

New Zealand's Julian Dean finished second, followed by Italy's Alessandro Petacchi, Robbie McEwen of New Zealand and Spain's Oscar Freire.

The first 139 riders were all credited with the same time as the stage winner.

Contador was placed 56th, just four places behind Andy Schleck.

The two are still separated by eight seconds with Saturday's individual time trial set to decide this year's Tour winner. Contador, though, is considered a better time trial rider.

"At the present time I am in front, but tomorrow I'm not sure I'll be in the same situation," said Contador. "In a three-week race, anything can happen at the last moment."

There wasn't much drama on Friday's flat ride after four days in the Pyrenees, as an early escape of four featured Italy's Daniel Oss, who tried to hold on by himself until being caught by the peloton with about four km remaining.

With the teams lined up in an attempt to give their top riders a chance at the stage victory, it was Cavendish who waited patiently for the perfect time to make his move. After Petacchi tried to break free, Cavendish put on a remarkable kick and could not be caught.

"It was up to me to kind of freestyle for the last kilometre," said Cavendish. "I was jumping from wheel to wheel; I was back to my old style of sprinting and it worked out."

Petacchi, though, wrestled the green jersey as the top sprinter away from Thor Hushovd. The Norwegian finished 14th on Friday and now trails Petacchi by 10 points. Cavendish is third, another six points behind.

"I want this jersey," stated Petacchi. "It's difficult to keep the green [on the final day] in Paris, I think, because Cavendish is very fast and it's possible that he will win one more stage and it's important for me to do a good sprint in Paris."

As for Saturday's time trial, Contador will be the last of the riders to start, just behind Schleck. The flat route is 52 km from Bordeaux to Pauillac.

"I know tomorrow is going to be the most important day of my cycling life," noted Schleck. "I'm ready to fight. Today was basically a case of economizing and not spending too much energy and have it for tomorrow."

The 2010 Tour will conclude Sunday with the traditional ride along the Champs Elysees in Paris.


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