Mark Cavendish extends green jersey lead with intermediate sprint … Fri, 02 Jul 2021 10:00:00 +0100-Victory into Châteauroux takes Cavendish to 32 career Tour de France stage wins.
It couldn't happen, could it? Eddy Merckx's Tour de France record of 34 stage wins looked impregnable until seven days ago. But here we are just six stages into this year's Tour and there is now a genuine possibility that Mark Cavendish could take the record outright.
Yesterday's win felt different to that of two days ago. With the Stage 4 win into Fougères came tears, emotions, relief. Like a pressure cooker had been opened and years of frustration and anger had been lifted from Cavendish's shoulders.
On Stage 6 into Châteauroux, we saw the old Cavendish both off and on the road.
On it, it was not just the fact he was the fastest man in the race that impressed, it was his decision making that stood out. Making the split-second call not to follow teammate Michael Morkov, he instead jumped on to the wheel of Jasper Philipsen, a decision that ultimately earned him victory. That is a sign that Cavendish is back.
Off it, it was a vintage Cavendish performance in the press conference: forensic recall of the Châteauroux finish line of 13 years previous, questioning the motives of Groupama-FDJ and Arkea-Samsic, jousting with the interviewer over the name that shall not be mentioned.
'Don't say the name, don't say the name!' Cavendish said in relation to Merckx.
'I'm not thinking about anything. Again, I just won a stage of the Tour de France. If that was my first stage or if that was my 32nd stage, I'd just won a stage of the Tour. That's what people work their whole lives for. I'm very, very happy, that's all I've got to say.
'If I'm good enough to win 50 more, I'm good enough to win 50 more. If I'm good enough never to win again here, so be it.'
It is only natural we mention Merckx though, isn't it?
Below, Chris Auld's images from Stage 6:
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Gallery: Is Mark Cavendish going to take Eddy Merckx's record? Fri, 02 Jul 2021 10:00:00 +0100-British sprinter extends his lead in the competition to 66 points.
The Manxman, who already has two wins to his name in this year's race, now leads the points classification by 66 points from Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix).
The green jersey was the only major sprinter to make it into the huge break that formed on the road from Vierzon to Le Creusot.
Vincenzo Nibali, Toms Skujins, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Philippe Gilbert, Harry Sweeny, Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Mathieu van der Poel, Xandro Muerisse (Alpecin-Fenix), Wout van Aert, Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma), Kasper Asgreen, Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Imanol Erviti, Ivan Cortina (Movistar), Magnus Cort, Ruben Guerreiro (EF-Nippo), Michael Schar, Dorion Godon (AG2R Citroën), Jan Bakelants, Boy Van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis), Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka NextHash), Soren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), Hugo Houle (Astana-Premier Tech), and Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels) made it into the break after a highly competitive phase of racing.
With an intermediate sprint after 115km at Saint-Benin-D'Azy, any sprinters with aims of winning the green jersey needed to be attentive.
Only Cavendish made the cut, with his main rivals, like Philipsen, Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) all missing out.
At Saint-Benin-D'Azy, Asgreen gave Cavendish the perfect lead-out, with the former road race world champion and 2011 green jersey winner beating Van Poppel and Mohoric to the maximum 20 points available at the line.
Cavendish now leads Philipsen by 66 points.
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 168
2 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 102
3 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 99
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 96
5 Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 84
6 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 84
7 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 72
8 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 66
9 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 64
10 Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 62
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– July 2, 2021
Mark Cavendish Gallery Is going to take Eddy Merckx record?