Mark Cavendish made history, breaking Eddy Merckx's record.

Mark Cavendish made history, breaking Eddy Merckx's record.

Mark Cavendish, 39, has overtaken legend Eddy Merckx after climbing to the top of stage five of the Tour de France.

Alexander Kristoff came in third.

Mark Cavendish won the mass sprint and became the winning rider in the world's biggest race. With his victory on the 35th stage of the Tour de France, he moved past Eddy Merckx's 34th place.

“Wow. I can’t believe it. You see what that means,” Cavendish says, impressed by his performance in front of the organisers.

After the finish line, he can celebrate the historic victory with his family.

Cavendish won his first stage of the race 16 years ago – in 2008. The Briton went five years (between 2016 and 2021) without winning a stage in the Tour de France, and has previously announced his retirement.

Photographed by Mark Cavendish

Alexander Kristoff was very impressed with his third place after suffering a nose injury earlier in the race. Jasper Philipsen was second.

– I had a hole, but it was on the outside corner, and then it was a long way to the finish line. “I felt like I had more inside,” a disappointed Christophe tells TV2.

Christophe allowed himself to admire his boss.

“That's impressive from an old colleague,” says Christoph. “It shows that this is possible for me too.”

“It’s like fine wine – it gets better and better,” Mark Renshaw, Cavendish’s sporting director at the Astana Kazakhstan event, tells organisers.

About 28 kilometres from the finish line, television images showed Kristoff and teammate Tobias Haaland Johannesen standing on the side of the road waiting for the team car. Kristoff had abrasions on his left thigh.

“There was a guy who slipped in front of me. I probably braked too hard. It was very slippery, so I didn’t have time to release the brakes,” says the Norwegian veteran, who turns 37 on Friday, of the fall. “The equipment broke, so I had to get a spare bike.”

About nine kilometres after the fall, Kristoff and Haaland Johansson were at the tail of the main field again, slowly but surely making their way forward in the field.

Photo: Anne-Christine Boujolat/AFP/NTB

Barely 60 kilometres from the finish line, overall leader Tadej Pogacar was also on the verge of collapse. The Slovenian was inches away from driving straight into a sign placed in the middle of the road, but managed to maneuver away.

– Pogacar's piece of art stayed on the bike there, commented TV 2 cycling expert Mads Kagstad.

Kaggestad criticised the fact that the regulator had not taken steps to more clearly define the middle and mark.

– The Tour de France could have ended there for Tadej Pogacar, if he had gone to this intermediate opponent, Kajestad continued.

Eritrea's Benyam Ghermay took over the points jersey from Jonas Abrahamsen after today's stage. The Norwegian retains the climbing jersey.

The “Grenlandsplogen” has held the climbing jersey since stage 1, and the green points jersey since stage 2.

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Najuma Ojukwu

Najuma Ojukwu

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