Cavendish Breaks Merckx’s Record 

Mark Cavendish, the 39-year-old sprinter from the Isle of Man, broke Eddy Merckx’s long-standing record for most career Tour de France stage wins with his 35th victory on Wednesday, July 3rd.

Cavendish sprinted for the win in the fifth stage of the Tour, pulling away some 100 meters from the line despite being bunched in. He crossed the line ahead of Jasper Philipsen and then jumped into the arms of a teammate.

“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. 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. We’ve done it.”

He equaled Merckx’s mark of 34 wins during the 2021 Tour and went close to #35 in the seventh stage last year when he was narrowly beaten to the line by Philipsen. He then crashed a day later and broke his right collarbone.

Merckx, the Belgian considered the most dominant rider in cycling history, won his 34 individual stages at the Tour from 1969-75.

Cavendish’s decision to give it one more shot paid off. With his 2023 race ending early, Cavendish decided to put off retirement by a year and came back to try again.

Finally, Cavendish made cycling history, 16 years after winning his first Tour stage back in 2008.

Cavendish’s longevity among his fellow Tour sprinters has no equal. He won the Tour de France best sprinter’s green jersey twice. He also won stages at all three Grand Tours, the others are the Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta, and became a world champion in 2011.

Other riders were happy for Cavendish, with several stopping to speak with or hug him after the 177.4-kilometer (110-mile) leg from Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne to Saint-Vulbas.