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Mark Cavendish earns Tour de France immortality with 35th stage win

Mark Cavendish graphic

Since drawing level with Belgian legend Merckx in 2021, Cavendish has had to deal with a knifepoint robbery and the uncertainty of finding a new team at the age of 37.

There was also the bitter disappointment of leaving the Tour with a broken collarbone 12 months ago, while injuries and depression contributed to him not winning once during 2019 and 2020.

Yet here he is in his 15th Tour, displaying the confidence of the rider who was virtually impossible to beat between 2008 and 2012 when he claimed 23 stage wins, including four on the Champs-Elysees.

“Without the Tour de France cycling does not exist,” Cavendish said in his 2023 Netflix documentary, Mark Cavendish: Never Enough.

With 35 victories out of 215 completed stages he also has a strike rate of almost one in six.

It is a remarkable feat for a rider who has been described as having a sharp tongue and fiery temper by former team-mates – and as a “pain in the ass” by the straight-talking Vasilis Anastopoulos, who worked with Cavendish at Quick Step and is now head of performance at the Manxman’s current Astana Qazaqstan team.

The Greek coach has been credited by Cavendish for helping rejuvenate his career during their time together at the Belgian Quick Step team, and for playing a pivotal role in his 2021 and 2022 success at both the Tour and Giro d’Italia.

Cavendish’s former lead-out man Mark Renshaw is now Astana’s sporting director.

“He’s amazing. He’s just like a fine wine who gets better and better,” Renshaw said of the sprinter.

“The team had so much confidence in him and they had that all year. We’ve changed the team to look after him and he has been mega committed.

“I don’t know how many days he’s been with his family but this year it has not been many and that is the type of commitment you need.”

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Written by Joseph

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