Cavendish wins first stage in five years – Asia Despatch

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It is Cavendish's first stage win since 2016 and 31st overall
It is Cavendish’s first stage win since 2016 and 31st overall

Britain’s Mark Cavendish won his first stage at the Tour de France in five years after a thrilling sprint finale to stage four in Brittany.

Cavendish, 36, produced a stunning sprint to finish ahead of Nacer Bouhanni and Jasper Philipsen.

Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey.

The win came at the end of a race which featured a riders’ protest after Monday’s crash-affected stage three.

Geraint Thomas and 2020 runner-up Primoz Roglic were among those involved in crashes, and on Tuesday riders came to a stop for a minute shortly after the rollout from Redon before beginning a go-slow ride for the first 10km.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Cavendish now moves to within three victories of Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 stage wins.

The Manx rider collapsed in tears in emotional scenes as he was congratulated by team-mates and rivals in a dramatic climax to the 150.4km stage.

‘I didn’t think I’d ever get to come back to this race’

Belgium’s Brent van Moer, part of a two-man breakaway, went solo with 14km to go before establishing a lead of around a minute before Deceuninck-Quick-Step, led by world champion Julian Alaphilippe, took up the chase.

As Van Moer faded in the final 200m, Cavendish powered through and rounded Philipsen on the line to complete a hugely dramatic victory.

“I don’t what to say, man – just being here is special enough,” said an emotional Cavendish.

“I didn’t think I’d ever get to come back to this race. Fire man, just fire from the whole team. We didn’t know if we were going to get them.

“You just see what a team this is, you’ve got the green jersey, the world champion, he comes to get the final pull to catch the breakaway.

“So many people didn’t believe in me, and these guys do and they did.

“The stars aligned, somehow. I never ever want bad things to happen to other people but after the last year it’s just nice to have some good luck for myself. “

More to follow.

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