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Tour de France: Cavendish equals Merckx's 46-year old record after 34th stage win

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By Euronews with AFP, AP
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Stage winner Team Deceuninck Quickstep's Mark Cavendish of Great Britain on the podium at the end of the 13th stage of the 108th Tour de France, on July 9, 2021.
Stage winner Team Deceuninck Quickstep's Mark Cavendish of Great Britain on the podium at the end of the 13th stage of the 108th Tour de France, on July 9, 2021.   -   Copyright  Philippe LOPEZ / AFP
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British rider Mark Cavendish on Friday equalled Eddy Merckx's record for most Tour de France stage victories after claiming his 34th win.

Friday's stage victory in Carcassonne is the fourth for Cavendish so far during this Tour de France.

Video posted online by the Tour de France shows the British rider, 36, celebrating his win by hugging his teammates.

Despite equalising Merckx's 46-year-old record, Cavendish said afterwards that he doesn't "want to be compared to Eddy Merckx, the greatest rider of all time."

"It's just another Tour de France win, it's like my first," he added.

Belgian legend Merckx, 76, won the Tour de France five times in his illustrious career and claimed his 34 stage victories on all terrains, while Cavendish's wins have all been during sprint stages.

The two men have met before but Merckx could offer his own congratulations to Cavendish next Friday when he will be at the start of the stage departing from Mourenx.

With one more traditional sprint finish left in this year's schedule, Cavendish could end up breaking Merckx's record.

This year's edition is the first for Cavendish since 2016 after he was sidelined by the Epstein-Barr virus and only make it on the starting line for his Deceunick-Quick Step team after Sam Bennett withdrew due to a knee injury.

Former Olympic cyclist Brian Smith told Euronews that Cavendish's achievement would have been an "incredible day" for the cyclist and his family.

"He only got a few days' notice to come into the Tour de France ... He was written off, he comes bouncing back and it's just an incredible story."

"Mark Cavendish is the story of the Tour de France," Smith added.

Slovenian Tadej Pogačar of UAE-Team Emirates -- who won the 2020 Tour de France -- remains in the leader's yellow jersey.