Mark Cavendish became the most successful Briton on the Tour de France when he snatched his ninth win in the 19th stage on Friday. Cavendish outsprinted Norway's Thor Hushovd after 178km from Bourgoin-Jallieu, with German Gerald Ciolek coming home third.
The Team Columbia rider beat the record eight career stage wins of Barry Hoban as he showed unbeatable form on the final straight to cross the line first for the fifth time this year. Spain's Alberto Contador retained the yellow jersey with a four minutes 11 seconds lead over Luxemburg's Andy Schleck despite being trapped in a late split with other top guns. American Lance Armstrong, third overall, gained four seconds in the incident to move 1:10 behind Schleck.
Going into Saturday's showdown to the top of Mont Ventoux, the American seven times champion has a 15-second lead over fourth-placed Bradley Wiggins of Britain.
A 20-man breakaway shaped up in the early stages on Friday, notably featuring Australian Cadel Evans who was out to make up for his calamitous Tour so far. Evans, runner-up in 2007 and 2008, started the stage in 29th position overall 38:20 off the pace. The fugitives were caught shortly before the ascent to the second-category Col de l'Arenier. France's Laurent Lefevre tried his luck as soon as the road went skyward and was later joined by world champion Alessandro Ballan of Italy.
The duo built a 20-second advantage before Cavendish's Columbia team pulled the peloton as a storm broke. Ballan and Lefevre were swallowed up with just over one km to go, with Cavendish's team mates setting up the Briton for another brilliant sprint to victory.
Cops search Di Luca’s home
Rome: Italian police searched the home of 2007 Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca on Friday, two days after he was provisionally banned from riding as part of an anti-doping probe. The International Cycling Union suspension came after Di Luca tested positive for the banned blood-booster CERA. The blood samples for the test were taken in May during this year's Giro, where Di Luca won two stages and finished second.
Police from the Carabinieri paramilitary anti-doping unit said they were not authorized to give any details on the search. The La Gazzetta dello Sport website said police searched Di Luca's home in Pescara and that of an Italian doctor nearby. The searches were ordered by prosecutors in Rome.
Di Luca was the latest Italian cyclist to test positive for CERA, an advanced version of the endurance-boosting hormone EPO.
It stimulates production of red blood cells to provide more oxygen to muscles. His LPR Brakes team is not competing in the Tour de France.