Mark Cavendish Just Broke Cycling’s Most Coveted Record
Photo by JASPER JACOBS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images
— 4 July 2024

Mark Cavendish Just Broke Cycling’s Most Coveted Record

— 4 July 2024
Nick Kenyon
Nick Kenyon

He’s finally done it.

After 19 years in the professional peloton, Mark Cavendish has won his 35th stage in the Tour de France overnight — eclipsing the legendary Eddie Merckx (34 stage wins) as the renowned bike race’s most successful cyclist; and breaking a record that stood for 48 years in the process.

Cycling is so often a story of hard work and heartbreak, with most riders in the Tour de France never tasting victory as they race purely in the service of their team leader. Simply making it to the Tour de France start line requires years of gruelling training, racing, crashes, injuries, and countless disappointments.

For context, Cavendish has one of the most dangerous jobs in professional cycling — sprinters typically cross the line in excess of 65 km/h with nothing but a layer of lycra protecting their skin from tarmac — and has endured more than his fair share of crashes and injuries (the word “crash” is mentioned 43 times on his Wikipedia page).

And yet despite the countless lows, he’s also enjoyed some of the greatest success on a bike in the entire history of professional cycling.

After winning his first stage of the 2008 Tour de France (where he’d eventually win four stages), Mark Cavendish tasted victory on the world’s biggest stage and would go on to dominate the peloton. By 2013, he’d won 25 stages at the Tour de France, but crashed out of the race in 2014 and 2017; later failing to make the time cut in 2018.

He wasn’t even selected to race at the Tour de France in 2019 and 2020; returning to the race in 2021 and winning four stages to bring his total number of triumphs to 34 (tied with Eddie Merckx as the Tour de France’s most successful rider).

In 2022, Cavendish failed to be selected for the Tour de France once again and was left without a team. Proving his form by winning the British National Championships in spectacular fashion just a few months prior had apparently counted for very little.

One year and a new team later, he announced his intentions to retire at the end of the 2023 season. And those hopes for winning at the Tour once again were high. But tragedy struck at stage seven when he dropped his chain and crossed the line for an agonisingly close second place finish.

The very next day, Mark Cavendish crashed out with a broken collarbone and the dream of winning his 35th stage looked like it was all over.

Disregarding the earlier conversations of retirement, Cavendish’s team Astana Qazaqstan Team offered him a lifeline to race one final Tour de France in 2024. And last night, in stage five, the dream was finally realised.

His team had ridden the perfect lead-out before the finale; Cavendish himself showcased his race craft by surfing the wheels of the other sprinters, gaining a gap on his competition. The moment he crossed the line in first position, he’d effectively written another page in the history books.

Cavendish’s cycling record is one of the most impressive of all time, with a total of 165 race wins and 55 Grand Tour victories that include the following:

  • 35 wins at the Tour de France
  • 17 wins at the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy)
  • Three wins at the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain)
  • Road Cycling World Champion in 2011
  • Track Cycling Madison World Champion in 2005, 2008, & 2016
  • Milan–San Remo winner in 2009
  • British National Road Cycling Champion in 2013 & 2022

Now at the age of 39, this is almost certainly the last time we’ll see Mark Cavendish racing at the Tour de France. But with six more flat stages that offer an opportunity for the sprinters in this race, there’s every chance his 35th stage win won’t be his last.

Subscribe to B.H. Magazine

Nick Kenyon
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at)


Share the article