Cavendish's victory gives Britain five stage wins this year from four riders: Wiggins, Cavendish, Froome and David Millar. That's the same number of wins for riders from France.
"For the British, it's a really big day," said French President Francois Hollande, visiting at the finish line in Brive-la-Gaillarde, a town in his political fiefdom.
The final big showdown comes Saturday, a 33-mile time trial from Bonneval to Chartres. Riders will leave one by one down a ramp in the race against the clock in reverse order of the standings.
Greg Keller and Samuel Petrequin in Brive-la-Gaillarde contributed to this report.
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