‘Congratulations to Mark Cavendish on this historic achievement! Such a nice guy to break my record.’ 

Those were the words of the legendary Eddy Merckx after the Manx Missile clinched a record-breaking 35th stage victory at the Tour de France on Wednesday. 

Cavendish’s trademark sprint finish in Saint Vulbas saw him move one clear of the previous record he shared with Merckx and cemented his place as one the greatest riders in the history of cycling. 

Praise for Cav has come in from far and wide since his historic win, but Cav has been quick to pay tribute to his team-mates. 

Speaking to current team Astana Qazaqstan’s official website, the 39-year-old Manxman said: ‘It’s hard to fully grasp this success, but we worked towards it and as a team we did everything possible to make it happen.  

‘We have an incredible team and I have amazing team-mates. Throughout not just this Tour de France but all this time, I felt immense support from the entire team and today we have the moment to celebrate this success together. 

‘I am very happy to be part of Astana Qazaqstan Team where I found friends and, essentially, an incredible family. Today, the team was magnificent, everything was done perfectly and I managed to win.  

‘I believed in success, but the main thing is that the team believed in success, we were on the same wavelength and had a common goal. I received maximum support and we purposefully worked towards the goal we achieved today.’ 

Those sentiments were shared by his team manager Alexander Vinokourov who said: ‘For our team, this is a great success, a historic achievement that will remain in cycling forever. 

‘Few believed that we would succeed, that Mark’s arrival in Astana Qazaqstan Team would change history, but we believed and did everything to make today’s victory happen.  

‘We were close to this last year, but fate had other plans. I believe that real champions should not end their careers after a fall and injury, and I am happy that Mark decided to do another season in the end.  

‘This year we were able to prepare better, create all the necessary conditions to approach the Tour de France as best as possible.  

‘The whole team believed in success and everyone contributed a bit of their effort so that today we could celebrate success. I congratulate the entire Astana project on this historic achievement.  

‘But we are not going to stop; only five stages have passed and most of the race is still ahead. We are ready, and we will continue to fight in each subsequent stage.'