Cavendish levels Merckx record

10 July 2021 04:18:35 GMTPlus10

Mark Cavendish says he remains as determined as ever to win stages at the Tour de France after his victory on Friday saw him draw level on 34 alongside the iconic Eddy Merckx, as Tadej Pogacar retained the yellow jersey.

Team UAE's Pogacar, 1/1000 to win his second successive Tour, is still far out in front in the general classification, holding a lead of 5:18 over EF Education's Rigoberto Uran.

Once again, the business end of the standings saw little change on Friday. Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz – of Jumbo-Visma and Ineos – are fourteen seconds further back, with AG2R Citroen's Ben O'Connor in fifth, close to six minutes behind the Slovenian pace-setter.

Stage 13 was no tale of the yellow jersey, but of the green as a flat run of 220 kilometres from Nimes to the picturesque town of Carcassonne in France's southwest ultimately brought glory for Cavendish.

It's what I've dreamed of as a kid. It's what I dream of now.

Mark Cavendish

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However, the Manx rider was made to work for his record-equalling win in balmy, blustery conditions pushing 28 degrees.

A nasty crash 58 kilometres from the finish sent Soren Kragh Andersen into a roadside ditch and hampered the progress of Geraint Thomas and Cavendish's colleague Tim Declercq.

The remainder of the race built steadily towards a crescendo, which saw the Manx Missile meander his way through the blockades, crossing the line with a roar as he passed his own lead-out man, Michael Morkov.

Stage 19's journey to Libourne and, naturally, the final-day procession down the Champs-Elysees are likely to represent the Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider's best opportunity to take the record outright from Merckx and he says the joy of winning at the Tour remains as satisfying as ever.

"I can't even think about it," he said. "It's still just another win on the Tour de France, it's like my first one.

"I've won a stage of the Tour de France, it's what I've dreamed of as a kid. It's what I dream of now. I've worked so hard for it."

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