Cavendish crashes out in last attempt to take record for most Tour stage wins

Britain's Mark Cavendish receives medical assistance after crashing during the eighth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 201 kilometers (125 miles) with start in Libourne and finish in Limoges, France, Saturday, July 8, 2023. (Thibault Camus/AP)

LIMOGES — Mark Cavendish will have to share the Tour de France record for most career stage wins at cycling’s biggest race.

Competing in his final season, the ace sprinter from the Isle of Man who is known as “The Manx Missile,” crashed out of the race during the eighth stage on Saturday.

Cavendish equalled Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour stage wins during the 2021 edition, 13 years after his first success, but was not selected last year.

This edition was his last chance to become the outright record-holder after he announced in May during the Giro d’Italia race that he will retire from cycling at the end of this season.

The British rider had finished second in Friday’s stage when Jasper Philipsen denied the rider a 35th stage win.

The 38-year-old former world champion hit the ground Saturday with 64 kilometres (40 miles) left while riding at the back of the peloton at about 45 kph (28 mph). TV images showed the veteran rider lying on the ground and then holding his right shoulder in pain.

Cavendish went inside an ambulance to receive treatment and looked ashen-faced before his retirement was announced.

Merckx amassed his wins in the 1960s and 70s, an era during which his domination was such that he earned the nickname “The Cannibal.” Unlike Merckx — who did it a record five times — Cavendish has never won the Tour.

Cavendish became the fifth rider to abandon this year’s race after Enric Mas, Richard Carapaz, Jacopo Guarnieri and Luis Leon Sanchez, who all crashed out.

Cavendish was not selected for last year’s edition of the Tour by his former Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team and joined the Astana-Qazaqstan team in January to extend his storied career by one season, hoping that he would add at least more stage win to his tally.

Cavendish also won the Tour de France best sprinter’s green jersey twice. He has won stages at all three Grand Tour races — Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta — and became a world champion in 2011.

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