Wout van Aert jokes he'll try to stop Mark Cavendish winning again at Tour de France 'especially for Eddy Merckx'

The Belgian finished second on stage 10 of the 2021 race in Valence

Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty)

Wout van Aert has joked that he will aim to deny Mark Cavendish in his quest to become the holder of the most Tour de France stages in history on behalf of his compatriot Eddy Merckx.

Van Aert, riding for Jumbo-Visma, finished second on stage 10 of the race in Valence on Tuesday, unable to get past Cavendish who won his third stage of the 2021 edition.

Victory for the Briton moves him onto 33 career stage wins in the Tour, just one behind the record of 34 set by legendary rider Merckx.

Cavendish could equal the record later this week, but Van Aert quipped that he will try and add to his tally of three Tour wins to prevent Cavendish surpassing his fellow Belgian.

"I will try to win especially for Eddy," he laughed to Belgian broadcaster Sporza. "And also a bit for myself."

Strong winds threatened to disrupt the finale of stage 10 with echelons briefly forming and the peloton riding into a headwind in the finishing straight.

Cavendish was led out perfectly by his Deceuninck - Quick Step teammates, and Van Aert's strategy was to remain behind them before launching his move in the final 200 metres.

"I came out of Cavendish's slipstream, but in the wind I couldn't completely make up the gap," he reflected.

>>> Read our full race report as Mark Cavendish wins yet again in the Tour de France

"I deliberately didn't want to go ahead of Cav with the headwind, but it didn't give me much time to get any closer either.

"I have no excuses: he was faster. I was where everyone wants to be in this Tour: on the Quick Step train.

"I have to thank Mike Teunissen. The teamwork was beautiful. It is motivating to make something out of it in this Tour."

Van Aert and his Jumbo-Visma team have had an indifferent start to the Tour, with their leader Primož Roglič abandoning after stage eight and the entire team suffering a number of crashes.

Joan Vingegaard is fourth on GC, but the team have yet to win a stage of this year's race, with 11 days of racing remaining.