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Mark Cavendish Sets Record With 35th Career Tour de France Stage Victory

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Mark Cavendish Makes History with Record-breaking 35th Tour de France Stage Win

In what is likely his final Tour de France appearance, veteran cyclist Mark Cavendish has etched his name in the race’s history books.

Cavendish surpassed Eddy Merckx’s longstanding record for the most career Tour de France stage victories by claiming his 35th win on Wednesday. The 39-year-old sprinted to victory in the fifth stage, breaking away around 100 meters from the finish line despite facing a tightly bunched field. He crossed the line ahead of Jasper Philipsen and celebrated with his teammates.

Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff, who had earlier suffered a crash, finished third. All three riders clocked the same time of 4 hours, 8 minutes, and 46 seconds.

Sixteen years after his first Tour stage triumph, Cavendish reflected on his enduring hunger for success.

“I always needed to win one more,” said Cavendish, who was joined by his children on the podium. “It takes a lot to get there every year. I’ve got incredible people around me.”

While two-time champion Tadej Pogacar narrowly avoided a crash and finished in 35th place, maintaining his hold on the yellow jersey, the spotlight of the day belonged to Cavendish.

Cavendish had equaled Merckx’s mark of 34 wins during the 2021 Tour and came close to securing his 35th victory in the seventh stage last year, only to be narrowly edged out by Philipsen. A subsequent crash resulted in a broken collarbone.

Merckx, renowned as one of cycling’s greatest riders, accumulated his 34 individual stage wins at the Tour between 1969 and 1975.

Cavendish’s decision to postpone retirement for another year paid off handsomely. After an early exit from the 2023 race, he returned with renewed determination.

Finally, Cavendish made cycling history, following his debut Tour stage win in 2008.

Fellow riders expressed their happiness for Cavendish, with many stopping to offer congratulations or embrace him after the 177.4-kilometer leg from Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne to Saint-Vulbas.

Unlike Merckx, who won the Tour five times, Cavendish has never contended for the overall title. However, his longevity and success in sprinting at the Tour remain unparalleled.

Cavendish previously won the Tour de France best sprinter’s green jersey twice and has claimed stage victories in all three Grand Tours — the Giro d’Italia, the Spanish Vuelta, and the Tour de France. He also became a world champion in 2011.

After his contract with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl expired and he was overlooked for the 2022 Tour, Cavendish joined Astana.

Cavendish faced a challenging start to this year’s Tour, battling stomach and heat issues during the first stage.

Meanwhile, Pogacar aims to safely navigate another flat stage on Thursday, holding a 45-second lead overall after reclaiming the yellow jersey with a daring attack earlier in the race.

Thursday’s stage 6 is once again tailored for sprinters, traversing vineyards en route to Dijon over a mainly flat route of around 100 miles. The first individual time trial awaits on Friday.

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