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The Tour's 18th stage went 198 kilometres, but the riders waited until the last half-mile to create another dramatic sprint to the finish line.
The stage from Salies-de-Bearn to Bordeaux was a relatively easy ride. The competitors coped with a final mountain stage followed by a gentle downhill slope at the end.
Matti Breschel of the Saxo Bank team and Daniel Oss of Liquigas led the way, amid applause from Hollywood stars.
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz cheered the riders along the course. Oss made a statement with just under 50 kilometres to go. He won the day's second sprint at Hostens, and the 23-year-old Italian launched another attack 14 kilometers from the finish. Oss emerged as the front-runner in the approach to the final sprint.
Three other challengers saw their advantage eaten up by the peloton 13 kilometers from finish. Then, the rest of the field caught up with Oss. More than a dozen riders joined the chase and the frantic run to the finish line was truly on.
Briton Mark Cavendish made a dramatic charge to the front. He recorded his fourth stage win on this year's Tour and the 14th of his career.///The HTC-Columbia rider finished just ahead of New Zealand's Julian Dean and Italian Alessandro Petacchi.
Yellow jersey-holder Alberto Contador maintained his eight-second lead over Andy Schleck heading into Saturday's 52-kilometre individual time-trial. Both riders finished the stage just outside the top fifty.