Tour de France 2021: Stage 13 – Mark Cavendish Ties Record, Belgian Boomer Unhappy

“I have been to the Great Wall of China. I have seen the Pyramids of Egypt. I’ve even witnessed a grown man satisfy a camel. But never in all my years as a sportscaster have I witnessed something as improbable, as impossible, as what we’ve witnessed here.” – Cotton McKnight

While I have not been to the Great Wall of China, nor have I seen the Pyramids of Egypt, and thank the Lord I have never witnessed a grown man satisfy a camel, indeed, I have never witnessed something as improbable, as impossible, as what we witnessed here today. The Man. The Myth. The Legend. Mark Cavendish has won his fourth stage of the 2021 Tour de France, tying Eddy Merckx‘s record for the most career Tour de France stage wins. There is not much to write about it in words that can do it any real justice. We have heard this day talked about for the better part of a decade and here we are. . . Mark Cavendish is a Tour de France (co-)record holder!

Cav’s lead-out man Michael Morkov (at this point, just give him the Tokyo gold, please) placed second on the stage in a dominating team performance. Alpecin-Fenix’s Jasper Philipsen rounded out the podium. Despite several crashes throughout the stage, the GC remains unchanged as Tadej Pogacar continues to more than comfortably wear yellow as the race heads for the Pyrenees.

Cavendish the Magnificent

I shall not write an ounce about the stage that does not involve Mark Cavendish as 1) that is not why you are here, 2) nothing else happened all damn long day, and 3) the things that happen, crashes, are not why you are here. So, let’s move along to Magic Mark, shall we?

The finale of the stage was so technical and tight that the ASO and UCI agreed to move the 3km rule out to 4.5km. That didn’t prevent the sprinters from having to navigate the terror, however. Just take a look at the handling and jostling that was required of it!

And from the aerial view. . .

Despite a lead-out that was far from textbook, Cavendish reigned supreme once again! The legend that is Morkov helped him quite a bit, but he did have to do a bit of work on his own after losing Morkov’s wheel inside the final two kilometres. For anyone who says that Cavendish simply rides his team’s wheels to victory, you would be incorrect.

For The Love of Morkov!

All too often, lead-out men get overlooked as their sprinters get the fame and the glory of the finish. It’s time for that to change, right now. Throughout his career, Cavendish has indisputably had the best lead-out men in front of him. For his many years at HTC, it was Mark Renshaw. This year, it is Michael Morkov. Here’s to you, Michael!

After the race ends, Morkov will head to Tokyo with the Danish National Team to compete for a gold medal for the Madison in the velodrome. At this point, the IOC should really just give him the gold medal and cancel the whole Olympics. He’s obviously the best in the business and one of the most deserving. As long as he keeps the gold respectable (I’m looking at you, Greg.) [I’m sure he will – he seems a sensible man. -ed]

Tying the record

As soon as Cavendish was a confirmed participant for this race (which if you remember, was very touch and go), the talk immediately became if he could tie Eddy Merckx’s record for most career Tour stage wins. I’ll admit it, I had my doubts. I was not overly confident that he could win one stage, let alone four. . . But here we are, I am eating crow and I am damn well pleased to be doing so because MARK CAVENDISH HAS TIED TO THE RECORD, Y’ALL!!

As he has ticked off one stage after another this month, Cavendish has refused to talk about the record, the possibility of the record, or even the mention of Merckx’s name. In his post-race interview today, the question was finally allowed and he gave perhaps the most Mark Cavendish answer ever. “It’s tiring.” But even as he was still heaving for breath, he was able to eloquently talk about what the wins really mean to him. Now that’s how to use a platform …

Issie is spot on here. . . being a lifelong Mark Cavendish fan is HARD and STRESSFUL! We see the man go through periods of highs and lows, happiness and tantrums. For those of us who have been waiting for this day, it’s been over 10 years in the making with his first Tour win in 2008. Yet we remain. There’s no bandwagonning for those of us who have been fans for years because we always knew the Manx Missile would deliver on his greatness!

Let’s just take a moment to think about this, really. The sprint field is widdled down quite considerably. Mark Cavendish and Quickstep have played it tactically brilliant each time they have made an attempt at it. We’re only on Stage 13. Do we dare dream that the record gets broken? Do we dare dream that Mark wins *gasp* SIX stages this year? I think we do!

Grumpy Belgian boomer

Eddy Merckx. . . What is there to say about Eddy Merckx? I’m not sure, really. I suppose he was a decent cyclist if you consider 5 yellow jerseys and 34 stages to be decent. But he also seems to be quite rude, rather than congratulatory, about the sport reaching new heights.

Normally, I would be polite and say that I get it. But that’s not the case here, because I really don’t. Yes, he won in various terrains and did it while winning the GC and wearing the yellow jersey. That’s all very fine and respectable, but isn’t it even more respectable that decades later, when the level of competition is seemingly leaps and bounds higher, that there is a rider who has won the same amount of victories through just one type of terrain? I would say so. Even if he doesn’t agree, wouldn’t it be the classy thing to congratulate the person regardless?

This next one is just far too good not to include!


The Last Word

You’re all late to the party, but we’ll still welcome you.


Stage 13 Top 5

1 Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 5:04:29

2 Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep) same time

3 Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) s/t

4 Ivan Garcia Cortina (Movistar Team) s/t

5 Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) s/t

General Classification Top 10

1 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 52:27:12

2 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) +5:18

3 Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

4 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +5:33

5 Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën Team) +5:58

6 Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) +6:16

7 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) +6:30

8 Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +7:11

9 Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +9:29

10 Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) +10:28

All the jerseys

Leaders jersey: Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)

Points jersey: Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step)

KOM jersey: Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic)

Best young rider jersey : Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates)

For full stage review, go to cyclingnews

Official Tour de France website is here

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