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Mark Cavendish takes record-breaking 35th Tour de France stage win

Updated
Mark Cavendish celebrates his win
Mark Cavendish celebrates his winProfimedia
Mark Cavendish (39) crushed the field in a masterful bunch sprint to claim a record-breaking 35th victory on the Tour de France when he prevailed in the fifth stage on Wednesday.

The Briton, who postponed his retirement by a year after crashing out of the Tour last season, was in a class of his own in a nervy finale after 177km from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to beat Belgian Jasper Philipsen and Norway's Alexander Kristoff second and third.

Astana-Qazaqtsan rider Cavendish, 39, had shared the record with Belgian great Eddy Merckx, one of the four five-time Tour de France champions.

He was greeted and embraced by several of his rivals shortly after crossing the finish line.

"Honestly I'm tired. It's my 15th Tour de France and it takes a lot to get there every year," Cavendish, who had not won on the Tour since 2021, said.

"I'm getting old and I've got to get in shape every year and it's hard. But everyone has been involved, I've got a lot of support. My family came yesterday. Perfect timing."

For a rider who repeatedly said one stage win on the Tour can change your life, Cavendish could not be happier.

"Winning one stage can make a career and I've always felt the need to win one more, and another one after that."

Manx Missile

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar retained the overall leader's yellow jersey after he just avoided crashing into a central reservation some 57km from the finish with several riders just behind him hitting the deck.

After thinking his Tour career was over when he climbed into an ambulance with a broken collarbone last year, Cavendish, whose chain came off as he crossed the line, made a spectacular comeback on cycling's biggest stage.

Cavendish looked in near agony in the first days, spending his time grinding along at the back of the peloton or way off the back in the hilly stages. But he briefly reminded the world of his "Manx Missile" reputation when he powered to the line with his characteristic "double kick" on Wednesday.

A father of three and stepfather of one, he burst into the limelight in 2008 when he won four stages on the Tour.

Cavendish celebrates with his teammate Bol
Cavendish celebrates with his teammate BolReuters

The Briton's brash behaviour gradually gave way to a more composed attitude, even though his nervous start to this year's race brought back memories of his young days.

But Cavendish knew where he was going despite struggling early on and missing out on the first bunch sprint of the race on Monday.

"You just have to know how to get through it. I've had bad days on the Tour de France before. You don't need to protect your ego and try to stay with the peloton, you just give your best until you get an opportunity," he added, praising team boss Alexandre Vinokourov for keeping faith in him and extending his contract for another year.

"It was a gamble this year, they gambled on me," he said.

"Normally it takes me some days to get into it but I know how it works. I don't like a bad day but I know it's just in the head."

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