Mark Cavendish assumed control of the green jersey after bouncing back to win stage 11 of the Tour de France in dominant style.
Cavendish was left to lick his wounds after finishing second to rival Andre Greipel on Tuesday but the Manx Missile made no mistake in accelerating away from the peloton to earn his third win of the 2011 tour.
Stage 11 marked the final opportunity for a bunch sprint before the race heads into the Pyrenees and Cavendish now has 18 Tour de France stage victories to his name, rising to eighth on the all-time list.
The 26-year-old leads the points classification on 251 pts, with Movistar fast man Jose Rojas on 235 pts and former green jersey holder Philippe Gilbert on 231 pts.
“It’s incredible to have the green jersey, it’s the most beautiful jersey in the world,” said Cavendish. “I have to thank my team mates for the work they did today, even the guys who are in the top 10 overall gave it one hundred percent and that shows what a great team we are.
“There are two more bunch sprints in this year’s race, one in Montpellier and the other in Paris and I want to try to win both of them.
“It’s not easy fighting for the green jersey but I’m going to keep going and try to keep hold of it right through to the end.”
Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), Lars Boom (Rabobank), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Mickael Delaga (FDJ), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) formed the day’s break and left the peloton sweating, maintaining a 30 second advantage with 7km remaining.
That pushed the HTC-Highroad train to the front earlier than expected, before Lampre-ISD and Team Sky moved forward to share the work in aid of Alessandro Petacchi and Edvald Boasson-Hagen respectively.
And, with that, the time gap began to tumble, dropping to 15 seconds at 5km before escapee Boom, a former under-23 world time trial champion, attacked from the front of the break.
His brave effort was thwarted by the peloton with 2km to the line, which prompted Tony Martin to move to the front for HTC, with leadout man Mark Renshaw and Cavendish in tow.
HTC’s earlier efforts in chasing down the break began to show, leaving Renshaw and Cavendish to fight for position in driving rain, with Garmin-Cervelo and Sky setting the pace.
But nobody could live with Cavendish once the Brit unleashed his sprint, riding away from Greipel, who finished second ahead of Farrar, while general classification leader Thomas Voeckler finished safely in the bunch.