Mark Cavendish eyes more stage wins after making Tour de France history

The sprint king blew away rivals to claim the record outright (AP)
The sprint king blew away rivals to claim the record outright (AP)

Mark Cavendish says he will not stop hunting for more Tour de France stage wins after finally breaking the record he shared with Belgian great Eddy Merckx on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old sprint king blew away his rivals in the fifth stage of this year's race, his legs pumping him to the front of the bunch before he roared over the line with arms aloft at the end of a 177-km ride to Saint-Vulbas.

Cavendish had been stuck on 34 Tour de France stage wins since 2021 after not being selected in 2022 and then crashing out of the race last year after narrowly failing to break the record in Bordeaux because of a mechanical problem.

But on Wednesday the Astana-Qazaqtsan rider's decision to postpone his retirement was fully vindicated as he underlined his standing as one of Britain's greatest ever sportsmen.

Former team mate Geraint Thomas was one of the first to congratulate Cavendish.

"It's unbelievable, I am super happy for him. It is great he has the record alone and is not sharing it with anyone," former Tour de France winner Thomas said.

"I said to him, 'mate, if you win this stage just drop your bike and walk away' -- but he was like, 'If I win the first one, I'll want to win more'.

"So he's definitely going to hang around, isn't he."

Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme added: "Everyone has a smile today, even Eddy Merckx!"

Additional reporting from Reuters