Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is inching a little closer to catching Eddy Merckx on the all-time list with the 32nd stage win of his career after claiming another exciting sprint finish at Stage 6 Chateauroux in the 2021 Tour de France.

Mark Cavendish Stage 6 Tour de France Sprint Stage victory
Mark Cavendish wins his second sprint stage this week for Deceuninck-QuickStep with a thrilling victory at Stage 6 in Chateauroux. (Image: AP)

The remarkable return of Cavendish to the peloton has been a surprising and uplifting story in the first week of the Tour de France. Two weeks ago, he didn’t expect to be riding in the Tour, but now he’s become the first rider to win two stages this year. He’s now in a position to secure the record for most stage wins in the 108-year history of the Tour de France.

2021 Tour de France – Stage 6 Results
  1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 3:17:36
  2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix)
  3. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic)

Cavendish won Stage 4 at Fougeres on Tuesday, then won again in Stage 6 when he held off Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic) to win his 31st stage victory. He came into Stage 6 as the betting favorite after Caleb Ewan had to drop out when he shattered his collarbone during a gruesome crash in Stage 3 at Pontivy.

With five more flat stages remaining on the schedule, there’s no reason why Cavendish can’t catch Merckx in this year’s Tour de France.

Stage 6: Tours > Chateauroux

Cavendish is no stranger to the podium at Chateuroux, with three victories to his name there. He won a sprint stage at Chateauroux back in 2008 for his first stage win, then he won again in 2011.

“Wow… it’s 10 years since my last win here,” said Cavendish. “It’s pretty special.”

Stage 6 began with a flat 160.6 km ride in Tours before ending at the finish line in Chateauroux. Despite an early breakaway, there was no real drama until the final sprint. DQS has one of the best lead-out teams in the peloton thanks to Michael Morkov. Even teammate Julian Alaphilippe assisted in the lead out to set up another stage win for Cavendish.

“Michael left me space on the left to go, but I wanted just a split second longer in the wheels, so I had to switch trains,” added Cavendish. “But you see the guys, how much they pull. You’ve got the world champion Julian Alaphilippe just burying himself in the last kilometers, it’s something special. I’m buzzing now.”

With another sprint victory, Cavendish retained the green jersey as the top sprinter in the peloton.

On deck: Stage 7 – Vierzon < Le Creusot

On Friday, the peloton has a hilly route with a 249.1 km ride from Vierzon to Le Crsusot. Stage 7 also marks the longest individual stage of the 2021 Tour de France, and the longest stage in over two decades. There are only two stages that exceed 200 km, and Stage 7 is one of them.

Keep an eye out for Alaphilippe in Stage 7 for back-to-back stage wins for Deceuninck-QuickStep. The French star secured his first-ever stage victory at Le Creusot a few years ago. With an uphill finish scheduled for Stage 7, Alaphilippe is the favorite to take first place.

2021 Tour de France – Overall GC Standings
  1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 20:09:17
  2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +00:08
  3. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +00:30
  4. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +00:48
  5. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) +01:21

With a sprint stage in Stage 6, there was no change in the overall leaders in the GC. Mathieu van der Poel from (Alpecin-Fenix) retains the yellow jersey for at least one more day.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar trails van der Poel by eight seconds, but he’s the consensus favorite to win the 2021 Tour de France. You can back Pogcar at -305 odds over at DraftKings. Primoz Roglic sits in 10th place in the GC, and he’s 1:48 behind van der Poel. Roglic is still second on the futures board at +700 odds, followed by Richard Carapaz at +1400 and Alaphilippe at +3300.

Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2021 Tour de France.