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First Endurance sponsored sprinter Mark Cavendish (Columbia-High Road) grabbed the win Wednesday by edging out ex-world champion Tom Boonen in the final moments of stage three of the Amgen Tour of California.

“It was a massive win for us today,” said Cavendish. “To be honest I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near the front in the finish with all the climbing in the stage. But I had three or four guys with me over the climbs and we made it.  We got the lead out right and they dropped me off with 100m to go so there could only be one outcome.”

Coming into the last corner, veteran Columbia-Highroad rider George HIncapie led teammates Mark Renshaw and Cavendish behind a group of four riders from Team Cervelo Renshaw attacked at 600 meters from the finish with Cavendish at his wheel. Cavendish took off with 250 meters to go, out-sprinting Quickstep’s Tom Boonen to take the victory.  Today’s win marks his third stage victory this season.

Cavendish dedicated the win to his teammate Kim Kirchen who was in hospital getting x-rays whilst the race was finishing.  Kirchen, 2008 Tour de France yellow jersey holder from Luxembourg, suffered a broken clavicle and scapula as a result of a crash mid-way through today’s race.

Cavendish and Team Columbia-Highroad will take on the 130-mile Stage Four Thursday, from Visalia to Paso Robles, the central Californian city just up the road from the team’s San Luis Obispo headquarters.