Mark Cavendish failed to break Eddie Merckex’s long-standing record of 34 career wins after being stamped out by van der Ert in the final of the Tour de France in the Champs-Elysees.
It was widely expected that Cavendish would break Merck’s record with his fifth win in the Champs-Elyses and the 35th round of his career, but Belgian national champion Van Eirt beat Saint Emilion in Saturday’s time trial, leading Sprint to the third victory of the tour.
Tadej Bokakar, who is proud to be the youngest rider to win the tour at the age of 22, crossed the line safely to secure his second consecutive overall title for the UAE team since winning it last year.
Despite failing to add to his previous four wins in the French capital, Cavendish has completed a remarkable comeback, equaling Merckex’s stage-winning record and taking the Green Points jersey for the second time in his career. After winning for the first time since 2016 at Foucault, he then went on to have three stage wins, namely Satarooks, Valence and Carcassonne.
The quartet of that success took him with five-time Tour winner Merkex, now 76, who has won multiple titles multiple times. Cavendish’s points also marked victory in the statistical classification, which he won a decade ago for the first time, a second time, but for that he suffered through the Alps and the Pyrenees.
“I was afraid he would not come to Paris,” said his sprint lead man Michael Morkov. “I doubted he would pass [mountain[ stages but he was really strong.”
“He was never supposed to do the Tour, so to come here, the hardest race of the year with some of the hardest mountains, I have huge respect for him. We stayed with him, paced him through, and I am really proud of what he did and how hard he [worked]. ”
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