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Tour de France: Cavendish wins record 35th stage

July 3, 2024

Mark Cavendish has won a record 35th Tour de France stage, overtaking the legendary Eddy Merckx. The British sprinter, who broke his collar bone last year, crossed the line first on stage five of this year's Tour.

Other sprinters congratulate Britain's sprinter Mark Cavendish as he crosses the finish line to win a record 35th Tour de France stage
British sprinter Mark Cavendish won a record 35th Tour de France stage, overtaking the legendary Eddy Merckx.Image: Daniel Cole/AP/picture alliance

British cyclist Mark Cavendish wrote history on Wednesday when he won a record 35th Tour de France stage, overtaking the legendary Belgian rider Eddy Merckx, whose record 34 stage wins had stood since 1975.

Cavendish, 39, raced home ahead of Belgium's Jasper Philipsen and Norway's Alexander Kristoff following a sprint finish at the end of stage five from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Saint-Vulbas, near the southeastern French city of Lyon.

For two-time Tour de France winner Cavendish, who won his first Tour stage 16 years ago back in 2008, it was a first stage victory since 2021.

Cavendish made cycling history

He was dramatically forced to abandon last year's Tour after fracturing his collar bone following a fall on stage eleven of what was expected to be his final Tour appearance.

But he postponed his retirement by one year in order to have one final tilt at a record 35th stage win – even though he threw up at one point during the opening few stages of this year's race in Italy.

"I just wanted to get the run-in to do it. I'm a little bit in disbelief. Astana put a big gamble on this year to make sure we're good at the Tour de France," Cavendish said. "We've done it."

Mark Cavendish celebrates with teammate after winning stage 5 of the Tour de France
Other riders were happy for Cavendish, with several stopping to speak with or hug himImage: Thomas Samson/Pool/REUTERS

After finally beating Merckx's record on Wednesday, he was congratulated at the finish line not only by his wife and children, but also by many other riders from the peloton.

Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar, runner-up in last year's Tour de France, retained the leader's yellow jersey at this early stage of the iconic race.

mf/lo (AP, AFP, SID)