Mark Cavendish sprinted to fifth place on the fourth stage of this year’s Tour de France on Tuesday afternoon.
The Manxman is aiming to break the record of stage wins (34) at Le Tour that he currently holds alongside legendary Belgian star Eddy Merckx.
Having finished sixth on Monday, the Astana Qazaqstan Team rider was targeting another opportunity in Tuesday’s stage which travelled 181.1km from Dax to the Circuit de Nogaro race track in the southwest of the country.
Despite Luis Leon Sanchez having a mechanical issue late in the day, Cav’s team-mates were able to deliver him to the finish but the expected bunch sprint descended into chaos as several riders crashed at high speed on the tricky corners, including his former team-mate Fabio Jakobsen and the aforementioned Sanchez.
The Manx Missile was able to avoid the carnage around him but, as he rode on the wheel of fellow sprinter Mads Pedersen, the Dane’s expected sprint failed to materialise which left Cav playing catch-up on his other rivals.
He launched for the line but was unable to reel in the likes of Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Jasper Philipsen and Lotto Dstny’s Caleb Ewan who sprinted to the line together and had to be separated via a photo finish which went in Philipsen’s favour.
Cav’s was able to make up a few places and crossed the line in a fine fifth place to pick up some potentially vital points in the green jersey (points) classification.
The next couple of days sees the peloton tackle two mountain stages in which the general classification takes centre stage.
Therefore, the next opportunity for Cav to make history is on Friday when the race heads from Mont-de-Marsan to Bordeaux which should end in another bunch sprint.