Mark Cavendish delayed his retirement to pursue the outright record for Tour de France stage wins
Mark Cavendish delayed his retirement to pursue the outright record for Tour de France stage wins
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Cycling: Mark Cavendish in 'disbelief' after breaking Tour De France record with stunning 35th stage victory

History was made at the Tour de France on Wednesday as Mark Cavendish secured a record 35th win, surpassing Belgian great Eddy Merckx. 

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Despite battling sickness during the Italian Grand Depart, Cavendish defied the naysayers by producing a flawless sprint on Stage 5 in Saint Vulbas. Incredibly, the 39-year-old will now target a 36th win on Thursday on a pan-flat route made for sprinters.

Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) admitted he was in a "little bit of disbelief" after landing a record 35th stage win at the Tour de France.

Sixteen years after his first win at the Tour, Cavendish moved clear of Eddy Merckx in the all-time standings with another supreme sprint victory.

His Astana team-mates, recruited to give Cavendish the best chance of another Tour stage, navigated their man through the chaos on Stage 5 to the finish in Saint Vulbas.

Then Cavendish's instincts took over. He surfed wheels to tee up his historic charge, powering away to what was ultimately a comfortable win.

"I just wanted to get the run-in to do it I guess. I’m in a little bit of disbelief," Cavendish said.

"Astana took a big gamble this year to make sure we’re good here at the Tour de France. [It was] a big gamble to come here and try and win at least one stage. It’s a big gamble for my boss Alex Vinokourov and the team to do."

Cavendish's triumph was even more remarkable given he battled sickness in sweltering heat on the opening stage in Italy, sparking fears he wouldn't make the time cut.

His team-mates rallied around him to guide him to the finish. Four days later, he became immortal.

Asked about his early struggles, Cavendish continued: "It’s not the first time being bad on the first day of a bike race or the Tour de France, it normally takes me days to get into it. But I know how it works, my trainer and the people around me know how it is.

"I’ve done 15 Tour de Frances now. I don’t like to have bad days, I don’t like to suffer, but I know it’s just in the head and you push and get through it and work out when you can have an opportunity.

"Things have to still go your way. We didn’t nail it as a team how we wanted to do but the boys improvised and got me there in the best position and I shot onto whatever train was going and was able to win."

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