MONTPELLIER, France — British sprinting star Mark Cavendish overcame high wind and "bashing" in the pack Sunday to collect his fourth stage victory at this year's Tour de France, as French rider Thomas Voeckler earned the race leader's yellow jersey for a sixth straight day.
The victory in the 15th stage was the 19th on the Tour for Cavendish, who clocked 4 hours, 20 minutes, 24 seconds. Tyler Farrar of the United States was second, and Alessandro Petacchi of Italy was third, both in the same time as Cavendish.
The mostly flat, 120-mile route through vineyards from Limoux to Montpellier was expected to favor sprinters, giving them a chance to shine again after three days of climbs in the Pyrenees.
"I had a lot of trouble in the mountains. It was difficult," said Cavendish, 26, who holds the green jersey as the top sprinter. "(Sunday), it was a difficult, technical finish; there was wind on both sides and lot of bashing."
Cavendish is now three career stage wins behind former champion Lance Armstrong, who is fifth with 22. Belgium's Eddy Merckx holds the record with 34.
Voeckler, 32, kept the overall lead that he first took in a crash-marred Stage 9 and surprisingly held through the mountains. "I am happy it was flat," he said.
Frank Schleck of Luxembourg remains second overall, 1:49 behind, while two-time Tour runnerup Cadel Evans is third, 2:06 back.
Defending champion Alberto Contador is seventh, 4 minutes back as the riders rest today.
At Montpellier, France
119.6-mile flat stage along the Mediterranean Sea from Limoux to Montpellier
1. Mark Cavendish, Britain, HTC-Highroad, 4 hours, 20 minutes, 24 seconds
2. Tyler Farrar, U.S., Garmin-Cervelo, same time
3. A. Petacchi, Italy, Lampre-ISD, same time
4. D. Oss, Italy, Liquigas-Cannondale, same time
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Spain, Movistar, same time
6. Ben Swift, Britain, Sky Procycling, same time
7. Gerald Ciolek, Germany, Quick Step, same time
8. Tony Gallopin, France, Cofidis, same time
9. Francisco Ventoso, Spain, Movistar, same time
10. Sebastien Hinault, France, AG2R La Mondiale, same time
(After 15 stages)
1. Thomas Voeckler, France, Europcar, 65 hours, 24 minutes, 34 seconds
2. Frank Schleck, Luxembourg, Leopard-Trek, 1:49
3. Cadel Evans, Australia, BMC, 2:06
4. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg, Leopard-Trek, 2:15
5. Ivan Basso, Italy, Liquigas-Cannondale, 3:16
6. Samuel Sanchez, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:44
7. Alberto Contador, Spain, Saxo Bank Sungard, 4:00
8. Damiano Cunego, Italy, Lampre-ISD, 4:01
9. Tom Danielson, United States, Garmin-Cervelo, 5:46
10. Kevin De Weert, Belgium, Quick Step, 6:18