‘Manx Missile’ Mark Cavendish showcased the perfect sprint to enjoy stage victory #35 in Saint Vulbas. Image: Sirotti.
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Sir Mark Cavendish Passes Eddy Merckx As Leading Tour de France Stage Winner

After years of heartache, doubt, ups & downs, illnesses, team changes and a myriad of other dramas, Mark Cavendish has done it.

The ‘Manx Missile’ is now the leading Tour de France stage winner of all time.

Making history on Stage 5 of the 2024 Tour in Saint Vulbas, Cavendish passed Eddy Merckx long-standing record set when he retired in 1978.

Sir Mark Cavendish – he was knighted this year – last won a TDF stage in 2021 Tour. He came close to #35 on Stage 7 of the 2023 Tour, then crashed out with a broken collarbone on Stage 8.

Veteran Of 15 TDF’s

Columbia riders Mark Mark Cavendish with his main leadout man, Aussie cycling legend Mark Renshaw in their Columbia HTC days. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Cavendish wore the rainbow jersey after winning the 2011 Road World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The following year, in July 2012, he became the first rider to win the final stage of the TDF four consecutive times and also became the first rainbow jersey holder to win the final stage into Paris.

The veteran of 15 Tour de Frances, Cavendish had a shocker on stage 1 of this year’s Tour, struggling with illness in the heat. Explaining Saturday’s suffering he said “I don’t like bad days and don’t like to suffer. It normally takes me a few days to get into the Tour de France,” he added.

And today, on Stage 5, he was certainly into it. With team Astana showing unity and a very organised sprint train for the past 30 minutes of racing, the perfect outcome started to materialise within the final 500m.

Mark Cavendish on the podium in Saint Vulbas after Tour de France victory #35. Image: Sirotti.

Threading through gaps and surging to 65k/ph down the left side of the finish, Cavendish sprinted to perfection to win by a bike length.

“The boys got me into the best position today,” he said after the historic victory. “I shot onto any train that was going … I’m in a little bit of disbelief.”

“We gambled to come here and win at least one stage. It’s a big gamble for my boss, Alex Vinokourov, he knows we have to go in. And we’ve done it. We’ve worked out every little detail. Every little detail has been put into stages like today.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to be the top of the UCI rankings or anything, but the Tour de France is bigger than cycling.”

More to come.

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Rolling TDF Coverage: Mark Cavendish Makes History With Victory #35