Mark Cavendish claimed his 18th stage victory in the Tour de France to snatch the green jersey on Wednesday, in the last flat stage before the Pyrenees.

Almost exactly 24 hours after fierce rival Andre Greipel had beaten him to the line in Carmau, Cavendish swept to two sprint victories ahead of the German in the eleventh stage to secure the green jersey, before the Tour moves to the mountains.

Cavendish battled the hail and rain to win his third stage in this edition, his 18th in four Tours, at the end of a 167.5km ride from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur. Greipel, the winner of Tuesday's 10th stage, finished second, ahead of American Tyler Farrar; Frenchman Thomas Voeckler retains the yellow leader's jersey.

"Yesterday I feel I made a small mistake, Andre rode one of the most technically sound sprints I've ever had to sprint against," Cavendish told reporters.

"What gets me down is to see these eight guys ride themselves to the ground for me and I can't finish the job for them. I told them I'll win tomorrow.

"And I had to win after the work those eight guys did today. There was no other option really, he said in regard to his HTC Highland team-mates."

It was as simple as that, the Manxman held off over a dozen riders in a frenetic final sprint despite catching his shoe in a rival's wheel with just 500m to go.

"My shoe banged into his [Romain Feillu's] front wheel and my foot came out. I had to re-do the buckle up, so I was lucky there were no swerves in the peloton then, and that [his wingman] Mark Renshaw was in position."

Cavendish made winning the green jersey one his main goals before the Tour and he now leads the points standings on 251 points, followed by Spain's Jose Joaquin Rojas on 235 and Belgium's Philippe Gilbert on 231.

"For me it's incredibly important. It's the most beautiful jersey in the world, it's what I came for and it took me half the Tour to get it.

"There's two more bunch sprints, one in Montpellier and one in Paris. It will be difficult because I tire out little by little. But I'll just keep fighting, give it my best shot and see what happens," he said.

A list of the overall standings is available here

Mark Cavendish
HTC-Highroad rider Cavendish puts on the best sprinter green jersey on the podium after the 11th stage of the Tour de France 2011.

Live coverage

The 98th Tour de France started on Saturday 2 July, with 22 teams racing over 3,430km in 21 stages, culminating with a finish at the Champs-Élysées in Paris -- a full list of dates is available here.

Live online coverage of the Tour is available in the UK and Europe via Eurosport, with subscriptions starting from £3.99. Full race highlights are available every evening on ITV.

In the US, the tour will be shown live on Versus, with repeats and highlights being aired on NBC. The entire event is also available online. NBC is selling a Tour de France all access pass for $29.95, which provides HD video of every stage of the race all the way through to the final leg, when cyclists reach Paris on 24 July. Read more at NBC, via GigaOm.

For viewers in other countries, has a comprehensive list of channels showing the Tour in other regions.