Eurosport’s Brian Smith and Magnus Backstedt told Orla Chennaoui that they have every confidence that Mark Cavendish will go on to beat Eddy Merckx’s record for Tour de France stage wins this year.
Cavendish stormed to his third stage of the 2021 Tour in Valence on Tuesday to move to 33 career wins at the French Grand Tour and just one shy of Merckx’s all-time tally.
And Smith believes that the headline story of this year’s Tour is already written, with almost two weeks of the race still remaining.
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“Maybe I’m slightly biased because I’ve worked with him, but I think regardless of how the rest of this race pans out, this is the story,” the former DS said.
“Mark Cavendish is the story of this Tour de France, the Cavendish comeback. Cav is the story, put it to bed, irrelevant want happens next.
I do believe he’ll go and get the record. But can you imagine, 35th win to beat Eddy Merckx’s record in Paris – that’s the dream.
Cavendish could go on to beat Merckx’s record in the next fortnight, but Smith explained why his status as the best sprinter in the history of the sport is already secure.
“He says he’s humbled by the team, but the team are humbled by him. They are working for the best sprinter ever in the history of cycling, who’s just about to possibly take this record during this race.
“When you’ve got somebody like that who’s already won two stages it’s a hell of a lot easier to gain that confidence and go the extra mile. It’s a different scenario when you’re on the back foot. Confidence breeds confidence.
“Let me put this in context. The certain person who’s got this record won prologues and time trials. So on road stages Mark Cavendish is already ahead of everybody. I think the closest amount of road stages won by one person is about 22, so he’s far ahead of everybody else.”
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And Backstedt added that this comeback is already a cycling classic story.
“Last year he wasn’t sure if he was ever going to see a bike race again,” he said.
“This year he didn’t think he was going to see the Tour again. Now he’s back here and winning stages.
“In terms of comebacks in store it’s monumental. He knows he’s the fast man in the bunch, he’s going to want that record.”
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