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Gallery: One step closer for Mark Cavendish

Joe Robinson
7 Jul 2021

One more win and Cavendish equals Eddy Merckx's Tour de France stage record

Thirty-three: the number of stages Mark Cavendish has won at the Tour de France. Second only to Eddy Merckx. Cavendish is the greatest sprinter road cycling has ever witnessed.

Stage 10 into Valence gave Cavendish his third victory of this year's Tour and it was his most dominant yet. The lead-out provided by his Deceuninck-QuickStep team was 'old school, textbook' in the words of Cavendish, like the old days of HTC-Columbia.

From the crosswinds of 30km, the Belgian team flocked to the front and basically stayed there until the finish. In reality, all Cavendish had to do was sprint the final 150m to the line, such was the performance of Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini, Michael Morkov and the rest.  

It has become the narrative of the Tour, the renaissance of Cav. With the battle for the yellow jersey all but over, the story on everyone's lips is whether Cavendish can actually do it: equal or even eclipse Merckx's Tour stage record of 34 victories.

And rightfully so. This is a comeback for the ages. With every victory the 36-year-old surprises us with at this year's race, the more superlatives we trot out. Surely it has got to the point where in terms of claiming victory in any sprint, Cavendish is no longer the underdog but in fact the red hot favourite. Just as he was a decade ago.

Considering the remaining parcours for the race, there are likely two remaining nailed-on opportunities for Cavendish to take stage wins: Stage 19 to Libourne and Stage 21 on the Champs-Elysees. Which means, yes, if Cavendish were to win both stages, he would take Merckx's stage record on the final day, in Paris, likely in the green jersey. What a story that would be.

Below, Chris Auld's images from the day:

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