Cavendish wins a stage after five years

van der Poel retains the yellow jersey

A last-gasp addition to his team, Mark Cavendish rolled back the years as he claimed his 31st Tour de France stage victory on Tuesday — five years after his last success on the world’s greatest cycling race.

The Briton, who finished outside the time limit in his previous participation in 2018, crashed out in 2017 and hinted at retirement last year. He is now three victories away from the Tour’s all-time stage win record held by Belgian great Eddy Merckx.

Cavendish, back in the Deceuninck-Quick Step team this season after a five-year hiatus, powered past his rivals in the final straight to beat France’s Nacer Bouhanni to the line.

Belgian Jasper Philipsen took third place while his Alpecin-Fenix teammate Mathieu van der Poel retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey.

“So many people did not believe in me, you know…these guys do,” a tearful Cavendish said afterwards, referring to Deceuninck-Quick Step. “I thought I’d never be back.”

Protest

The day had begun with a rider protest — with all teams putting their collective foot down one kilometre into the 150.4-km ride from Redon to bring the race to a halt for about a minute in a silent protest for safer racing conditions after numerous crashes in the opening stages.

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