Cavendish clinched the prize he has chased for the past four years by winning the famous race’s final stage on the Champs-Elysees for the third year in succession, as Australia’s Cadel Evans secured the yellow jersey. It was his fifth Tour stage win this year and a remarkable 20th of his thriving career, putting him equal sixth on the all-time list of winners.
Yet Cavendish (right) insists he is not driven by a desire to equal five-time Tour champion Eddy Merckx, who amassed 34 stage wins, but by a craving for his own legacy.
“That’s not an objective,” he said of catching Merckx. “I’ll just keep trying to win as many as possible. There’s not a number I’d like to win. I’d like to come back and consistently win at the Tour de France.”
Generous Cavendish, who looks likely to be hot favourite for road race gold at London 2012, praised his HTC-Highroad team-mates for their role in his success.
“There’s nine of us who rode together this Tour de France. I’m wearing the jersey on behalf of eight other incredible guys,” the 26-year-old added.
“Finally. I’m super, super happy. It’s an incredibly emotional day for me. It’s the third time I’ve won on the Champs-Elysees but finally to do it in the green jersey and stand on the podium, it’s a massive honour.”
Cavendish earned 334 points and finished a comfortable margin ahead of nearest challenger Jose Joaquin Rojas, on 272, but was not sure of the green jersey until the final dash for the line.
BMC rider Evans, the first Australian to win the Tour, finished one minute, 34 seconds ahead of Leopard Trek’s Andy Schleck in the overall standings.
The 34-year-old, who seized the yellow jersey in Saturday’s time trial, said: “A few people always believed in me and I believed in myself and here we are today – we did it.”