The 2021 Tour was a magical one for Cavendish. Back with Deceuninck - Quick-Step and with the best lead-out man in the world, Michael Mørkøv, he was almost unstoppable in the sprints.
The 'Manx Missile' won four stages on his way to taking the green points jersey for the second time in his career, levelling the stage win record at the race set by Merckx in 1975.
In an interview with Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab), Merckx said: "I wouldn't say Mark is the greatest sprinter of all time, but he is one of the greatest.
"There have been so many top sprinters, who have also won many stages. But he's a really nice guy and I wouldn't have had a problem with it if he had beaten my record. I have a lot of appreciation for Cavendish."
Cavendish took 10 wins in 2021 with four coming at the Tour of Turkey, thus breaking his almost four year draught with him going on to take the four at the Tour as well as a stage of the Tour of Belgium and Sparkassen Münsterland Giro.
The 36-year-old was also recently announced to be staying with Deceuninck - Quick-Step for another year with the team changing its name to Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.
In the announcement, Cavendish said: "I am incredibly proud and happy to have agreed a new deal with Deceuninck – Quick-Step.
"One year ago, when I came to the team, I did not hide my admiration for what this team does and how happy I was to be back here. I knew from my first time here that this squad has a unique family feeling, and it is a culture that remains to this day.
"The last 12 months have been phenomenal and the support that I have had from the team and the staff has made me very emotional at times. I am really looking forward to making some more special memories together over the next 12 months."
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