Mark Cavendish: Equal among firsts

CARCASSONNE, FRANCE - JULY 09: Jasper Philipsen of Belgium and Team Alpecin-Fenix & Mark Cavendish of The United Kingdom and Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step Green Points Jersey sprint at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021, Stage 13 a 219,9km stage from Nîmes to Carcassonne / @LeTour / #TDF2021 / on July 09, 2021 in Carcassonne, France. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) sprinting to victory in Carcassonne at the 2021 Tour de France (Image credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish’s incredible comeback at the 2021 Tour de France, in which he won four stages and equalled Eddy Merckx’s stage-winning record, was the biggest story of the race. Procycling looks at the Manx sprinter’s achievement.

When the 2021 Tour de France route was revealed last year, fans with long memories might have noted that parts of it looked like a compilation of Mark Cavendish's greatest hits. Fougères, the finish town of stage 4, was the location of his 26th number one in 2015; Châteauroux, two days later, was an even more important part of the Cavendish narrative – it's where his first and 17th stage wins happened. Nîmes (win number 4) and of course Paris (numbers 10, 15, 20 and 23) were also on the itinerary.

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Edward Pickering is Procycling magazine's editor. He graduated in French and Art History from Leeds University and spent three years teaching English in Japan before returning to do a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism at Harlow College, Essex. He did a two-week internship at Cycling Weekly in late 2001 and didn't leave until 11 years later, by which time he was Cycle Sport magazine's deputy editor. After two years as a freelance writer, he joined Procycling as editor in 2015. He is the author of The Race Against Time, The Yellow Jersey Club and Ronde, and he spends his spare time running, playing the piano and playing taiko drums.