BRITAIN’S Mark Cavendish put his bronchitis-affected slow start to the Tour de France behind him with a trademark blistering sprint finish to claim a 24th stage win in cycling’s most famous race yesterday.
The Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider, who has been on antibiotics, beat Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen and Cannondale’s Peter Sagan to the line to win the Tour’s fifth stage in Marseille.
Cavendish, 28, is now 10 Tour stage wins short of Eddy Merckx’s record and fancied to notch another today, when the race heads from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier.
The Manxman struggled during the first few stages and admitted he is still short of fitness, but praised his team-mates for putting him in a position to strike.
“I’m not even at 95 per cent. I am still pretty ill,” he said. “But with the guys committing like that, it really does give you something extra. I would have massively messed up if I didn’t win after the lead-out the guys gave.”
Simon Gerrans of Orica GreenEdge retained the yellow jersey, while a major pile-up 200m from the finish split the peloton.