Tour de France: Mark Cavendish closes in on Eddy Merckx's record

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By Everton Gayle
Tour de France: Mark Cavendish closes in on Eddy Merckx's record

Mark Cavendish collected his fourth stage win at the 2016 Tour of France.

The Manx missile was too fast for rivals Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan. Cavendish has now racked up 30 stage wins, four behind five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx.

Cavendish’s imperious form means bad news for his rivals as no rider from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal has won any of the first 14 stages in this year’s race.

The peloton observed a minute of silence as the riders were reunited for the first time since the Bastille Day tragedy in Nice the day after the first individual time trial in the Ardèche.

The long and hot 208.5km stage from Montélimar to Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux meant the peloton was not keen on going at full throttle.

With the head wind in the Rhône valley, the riders took a slow start with no attack until Jérémy Roy (FDJ) went clear off the peloton after 28 kilometres.

Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac), Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) and Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18) joined him to form a leading quartet that was allowed a maximum advantage of 4.45 after 50km of racing.

But four eventually became three before the inevitable happened and they were swept up by the peloton with fewer than three kilometres remaining.

The dash to the line was not without controversy as Marcel Kittel complained that his sprint was impeded by Cavendish. But the commisaires ruled in favour of the Data Dimension rider.

Chris Froome finished comfortably within the pack in 60th position to keep the yellow jersey, and maintaining his lead of 1min 47secs.