Gallery: A look back at Mark Cavendish’s record-breaking career

It is done. Mark Cavendish finally scored his 35th stage win in the Tour de France to break the record he previously shared with the great Eddy Merckx. It is rare in this sport, with its long and storied history, that a rider can do something unprecedented. But with his victory on Wednesday in Saint-Vulbas, Cavendish did just that.

His journey to the top is one filled with highs and lows, and if he made history today, it is a testament to his sheer talent and resilience. Rouleur looks back on just a few of those highs and lows.

Cavendish won three stages in the 2012 Tour de France but was part of the mighty Team Sky. In this picture, Cavendish follows Bradley Wiggins down the Champs-Elysées, where he would finish the Tour with his arms in the air.

The 2013 season was one of his best as he won five stages in the Giro d’Italia and two more in the Tour de France.

The 2014 Tour de France, starting in Yorkshire, had all the makings of a fairytale, with Cavendish taking the yellow jersey on the opening stage. But it turned into tragedy when he crashed heavily and was forced out of the race before it really began.

After several years of struggling to ride at his best level, Cavendish struck gold in the 2021 Tour de France, winning no less than four stages. Here in Carcassone, Cavendish is in a state of disbelief after matching Eddy Merkx’s record of 34 stage wins.

Cavendish stands with stage win co-record holder Eddy Merckx before the start of stage 19 in the 2021 Tour.

While he had an amazing Tour de France in 2021 with four stage wins and the green jersey, the finish on the Champs-Elysées remained bittersweet as he lost to Wout Van Aert, failing to break the Merckx record.

Cavendish came oh-so-close to getting the record in 2023, but a mechanical cost him his best chance for victory in Bordeaux. Originally set to retire, he pushed back the clock one more year to have at least one more chance at the record.

Since the start of this year’s Tour, Cavendish fans have been hoping to celebrate with their hero.

Cavendish strikes gold on stage five, as the sprinters from the next generation could only look on as the 39-year-old makes history.

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