Cavendish takes 6th stage for 2nd straight TDF win 

Mark Cavendish made it two straight Tour de France stage victories Friday, leading a sprint for the line as the main title contenders finished in a closely trailing pack.

The 25-year-old native of Britain's Isle of Man raised his hands in celebration at the end of the hot, mostly flat 141.3-mile sixth stage from Montargis to Gueugnon.

The HTC Columbia rider earned his 12th career Tour stage victory and fifth in all races this year — clocking 5 hours, 37 minutes, 42 seconds to edge Tyler Farrar of the U.S. and Alessandro Petacchi of Italy.

The main title contenders had the same time as Cavendish. Defending champion Alberto Contador was 28th, seven-time champion Lance Armstrong was 38th, and overall race leader Fabian Cancellara was 41st.

The top of the standings didn't change: Cancellara retained the yellow jersey he has worn everyday but one this year, Spaniard Contador stayed ninth overall, and Armstrong kept his 18th spot. Cadel Evans of Australia, a two-time Tour runner-up and the highest-placed potential title contender, is third — 39 seconds behind Cancellara.

Cavendish's victory came a day after he broke down in tears after winning Stage 5, experiencing a sense of redemption after failing to meet expectations he would win a stage earlier in the race.

"I'm really happy. I'm speaking better today because I was pretty emotional yesterday," Cavendish said.

The sprint attempt by Farrar suggested the Garmin-Transitions rider's condition has improved since he broke his left wrist in one of numerous crashes on rain-slicked roads in Monday's Stage 2.

"I'm still not 100 percent," Farrar said in French on French television. "Maybe I'm stupid not to stop after the break, but today I was feeling better."

The overall standings, which rarely change much during flat stages, are likely to change as the race leaves the lowlands for the mountains, which will likely shake up the overall standings as the favorites try to gain ground on their rivals.

Barring crashes or mishaps, the overall standings rarely change much on flat stages. But with the Tour about to leave the lowlands for the mountains, the climbers are poised to take center stage and the contenders will test their rivals for weakness.

Riders get their first real taste of climbing this year in Saturday's seventh stage, a 102.8-mile trek from Tournus to Station des Rousses with six low- to mid-grade ascents in the Jura range.

The climbing begins in earnest Sunday, when the three-week race enters the Alps.

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