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Gallery: Is Mark Cavendish going to take Eddy Merckx's record?

Joe Robinson
2 Jul 2021

Victory into Châteauroux takes Cavendish to 32 career Tour de France stage wins

It couldn't happen, could it? Eddy Merckx's Tour de France record of 34 stage wins looked impregnable until seven days ago. But here we are just six stages into this year's Tour and there is now a genuine possibility that Mark Cavendish could take the record outright.

Yesterday's win felt different to that of two days ago. With the Stage 4 win into Fougères came tears, emotions, relief. Like a pressure cooker had been opened and years of frustration and anger had been lifted from Cavendish's shoulders.

On Stage 6 into Châteauroux, we saw the old Cavendish both off and on the road.

On it, it was not just the fact he was the fastest man in the race that impressed, it was his decision making that stood out. Making the split-second call not to follow teammate Michael Morkov, he instead jumped on to the wheel of Jasper Philipsen, a decision that ultimately earned him victory. That is a sign that Cavendish is back.

Off it, it was a vintage Cavendish performance in the press conference: forensic recall of the Châteauroux finish line of 13 years previous, questioning the motives of Groupama-FDJ and Arkea-Samsic, jousting with the interviewer over the name that shall not be mentioned.

'Don't say the name, don't say the name!' Cavendish said in relation to Merckx.

'I'm not thinking about anything. Again, I just won a stage of the Tour de France. If that was my first stage or if that was my 32nd stage, I'd just won a stage of the Tour. That's what people work their whole lives for. I'm very, very happy, that's all I've got to say.

'If I'm good enough to win 50 more, I'm good enough to win 50 more. If I'm good enough never to win again here, so be it.'

It is only natural we mention Merckx though, isn't it

Below, Chris Auld's images from Stage 6: