Mark Cavendish secured his second stage win of this year’s Tour de France with victory on stage six into Chateauroux as he closes in on Eddy Merckx’s all-time record.
Two days after taking his first Tour stage success in five years, Cavendish doubled up as he pipped Jasper Philipsen and Nacer Bouhanni to the line.
It was Cavendish’s 32nd career Tour stage win, and third in Chateauroux, the scene of his very first Tour victory in 2008.
Cavendish showed both his pace and his experience in the finale of the 160.6km stage from Tours, coming off the wheel of his Deceuninck-QuickStep lead-out man Michael Morkov and instead latching on to Philipsen’s Alpecin-Fenix train before coming around the Belgian.
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“Wow,” Cavendish said. “It’s 10 years since my last win here. It’s pretty special…”
“Michael left me space on the left to go but I wanted just a split second longer in the wheels so I had to switch trains.
“But you see the guys, how much they pull. You’ve got the world champion Julian Alaphilippe just burying himself in the last kilometres, it’s something special. I’m buzzing now.”
A second victory in three days raised the inevitable question of Merckx’s all-time record of 34 Tour stages, but Cavendish once again shrugged it off.
“Don’t say the name,” he said. “I’m not thinking about anything. I just won a stage of the Tour de France. If it was my first or my 32nd, I just won a stage of the Tour de France, it’s what people work their whole lives for.
“If I’m good enough to win another 50 or I never win again, so be it, it’s the Tour de France.”
The sprint finish meant no major changes at the top of the general classification, in which Mathieu van der Poel continues to lead by eight seconds from defending champion Tadej Pogacar, winner of Wednesday’s time trial.
Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic crossed safely in the pack, but both remain almost two minutes down on Pogacar.
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