Mark Cavendish equals Eddy Merckx's record of 34 Tour de France stage wins

The Briton won stage 13, his fourth victory of the 2021 edition

Mark Cavendish
(Image credit: Getty)

Mark Cavendish has equalled Eddy Merckx's record of 34 Tour de France stage wins.

The Deceuninck - Quick Step sprinter won a bunch sprint on stage 13 of the 2021 race in Carcassone, his fourth win of the current edition.

It means that he has now won 34 stages of the Tour de France in his career, a number only achieved in the past by legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx. 

Merckx's record has stood for 46 years, the Belgian first winning a Tour stage in 1969 and triumphing for the final time in 1975.

Cavendish's pursuit of the tally began in 2008 when he won stage five of that race in Châteauroux. He went onto win another three stages that July.

Those quartet of wins set him on his way to dominating the sport's fast finishes in the ensuing years, the Isle of Man star recording six triumphs the following year.

It was in 2009 when he won on the Champs-Élysées for the first time, a feat he repeated every year until his last in 2012.

Whether it was the various guises of HTC - Columbia, Sky Procycling or Omega Pharma - Quick Step that he rode for, Cavendish continued to add to his Tour tally every year and chipping away at Merckx's lead.

He suffered heartbreak in 2014 when he crashed on the finishing straight in Harrogate on stage one, but he bounced back to win a stage of the 2015 race.

It was in 2016, though, when he returned in the style of old while riding for Dimension Data, winning on four different occasions including on stage one in Britanny, securing him the race's yellow jersey for only the first time in his long and storied career.

The now 36-year-old hadn't won a stage of the French Grand Tour since 2016 until this summer, where he has taken full advantage of his unexpected inclusion in Deceuninck - Quick Step's squad.

He had not trained to race the Tour for Irish sprinter Sam Bennett was due to defend the green jersey he won last year, but a knee injury ruled him out of competing and welcomed Cavendish back into the frame.

Although several potential rivals have been absent from the race and other big names like Caleb Ewan, Arnaud Démare and Peter Sagan have all gone home early, Cavendish has ruled superior during the four bunch finishes that have taken place since the race set off from Brest.

Ending a five-year winning drought at the race on stage four, Cavendish repeated his success on stages six, 10 and now 13.

The next chance he will get to surpass Merckx is in a week's time on Friday, July 16, with the mountains of the Pyrenees looming large.

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