Tadej Pogacar has described the Tour de France 2022 route as "a complete course" as the two-time champion looks to claim a third title in a row.

The new route for the 109th edition of the Tour was revealed in Paris on Thursday and totals 53 kilometres, including two individual time trials and five mountain-top finishes.

Pogacar, speaking at the route's unveiling in the French capital, said he was "excited" at the prospect of the course. 

"It's pretty great. It's a complete course," the 23-year-old Slovenian said. "From the first stage to the last stage, we have everything: sprints, echelons, cobbles, big climbs, small climbs, time trials. 

"I'm really looking forward to it. I'll do some recons because it will be necessary after we saw what's on the plan. I'm pretty excited."

Pogacar joined an exclusive club of cyclists last week by claiming victory at the Giro di Lombardia, having retained his Tour de France title in July, to become the first rider in 42 years to win both competitions in the same season.

Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault are among the illustrious names to have previously achieved the feat.

Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar matched a feat achieved by three of cycling's greatest competitors as he triumphed at the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday.

Pogacar cruised to a title defence at Le Tour in July and the 23-year-old clinched his second Classic crown of the season with success in the final Monument race of the year.

The Slovenian, making his Giro di Lombardia debut, is the first rider in 42 years to have won both the Tour de France and Giro di Lombardia in the same season.

He joins an illustrious list of riders to have done the double – Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.

UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar finished ahead of Fausto Masnada in the final sprint at the culmination of the 239km race from Como to Bergamo, with Adam Yates taking third place.

Pogacar previously won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race in April.

"I'm speechless, it's crazy to be here to celebrate this success at the end of a season like this," he said.

"Every victory is important to me, being at the start of Lombardia alongside the best cyclists in the world was a dream, and now winning on my debut was incredible."

Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar has signed a new deal to remain with UAE Team Emirates until 2027.

The Slovenian has worn the yellow jersey down the Champs Elysees at the last two editions of the Tour, also claiming the mountains classification in both.

Pogacar, who is still only 22, took bronze in the Tokyo 2020 men's road race and has now secured his long-term future with the team he joined in 2019.

"I'm really happy to be able to commit my future to the team and stay here for the next years," he told his team's official website. "I feel at home here, it feels like a big family.

"This team is a really good fit for me and I am fortunate to say that I have not only found colleagues but friends.

"I'm excited for the years ahead and what they will bring, hopefully more success for me and for the team. I hope we are inspiring lots of kids to ride bikes."

Ecuador's Richard Carapaz powered away to Olympic gold medal glory in the Tokyo 2020 men's road race.

After finishing third in the general classification at the Tour de France, Carapaz produced a stunning ride just six days later in Japan

He crossed the line one minute and seven seconds clear of a distant chasing pack.

Silver in a sprint finish was secured by Belgium's Wout Van Aert and, barely the width of a tyre further back, bronze went to Slovenia's Tour champion Tadej Pogacar.

Carapaz, 28, adds the Olympic title to his 2019 Giro d'Italia triumph, and he slapped his handlebar, punched the air and clapped himself as he crossed the line.

The 234-kilometre race took in the lower slopes of Mount Fuji and a daunting ascent of Mikuni Pass that featured an average gradient of 10.6 per cent and sections that topped 20 per cent.

The riders finished on the Fuji International Speedway, in front of a crowd – being outside Tokyo, a limited number of spectators were allowed to watch the action.

Former Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas was involved in an early crash with Great Britain team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart and subsequently abandoned the race.

Thomas later tweeted: "Think I must have done something bad in a previous life... Freak crash, Tao lost his front wheel and decked it in front of me. I had nowhere to go, other than the floor as well."

The Netherlands' Bauke Mollema was edged out of the medals in the sprint, finishing fourth, with fifth going to Canada's Michael Woods and sixth to American Brandon McNulty, who had joined Carapaz in a two-man break in the closing stages, only to drop off the champion's pace.

Tadej Pogacar said he felt "super happy" after putting the finishing touches to a second successive Tour de France triumph.

The 22-year-old Slovenian had led the general classification from stage eight, and 15 days down the road in Paris he wrapped up a supremely impressive performance.

As well as the top prize, Pogacar also collected the king of the mountain and young rider honours, and it is hard to imagine there not being abundant further success to come over the next decade.

Pogacar spoke on the podium after his win, saying: "Last year I should have written a speech for my first Tour de France victory but I didn't know how to write it.

"So also this year I said, 'OK, I'm going to speak from the heart and say what I have to say'.

"Thank you everybody that came here to support us cyclists through all the three weeks. To the French public and all fans of cycling from the whole world, it is so fantastic racing on the amazing parcours of the Tour this year."

He thanked his team, UAE Team Emirates, for helping him achieve the goals they set out to reach.

"I cannot describe how happy I am to be part of this family, it melts my heart," Pogacar said.

"They were with me every day of the whole year preparing for the Tour. I'm super happy and proud to be part of this team on this journey.

"I'm not going to cry. Thank you everybody. It was a difficult year with COVID and I really hope next year we come here without the masks.

"Of course I cannot forget my family, standing beside me, and my girlfriend and my friends. I hope I've told enough but I'm super happy. Thank you everybody."

Pogacar said it was "time for celebration".

"I will remain motivated in the coming years, but what come next will come next… I’m not stressed about it," Pogacar said, quoted on the Tour's official website.

"It's quite different. Last year, I felt strong, incredible emotions. This year I'm again here, standing atop the podium, but the feelings are quite different."

 

Tour great Eddy Merckx won the general classification five times from 1969 to 1974, and had such a ruthlessness he was nicknamed 'The Cannibal'.

Pogacar does not want to be compared to legends of the sport, insisting he should be allowed to plot his own career path.

"The new Cannibal? I don't like to compare myself to other riders," he said. "Each rider has his own style and personality. Every rider is unique. I don't think there is anything left. I just enjoy life, I work hard, I love cycling – and those are the most important things."

Pogacar did not quite secure a sweep of the Tour honours, with the green jersey – the points classification that rewards the best sprinters – going to 36-year-old Deceuninck-QuickStep star Mark Cavendish.

Cavendish's four stage victories took him level with the record of 34 that Merckx had owned exclusively for over 40 years.

"Ten years later, again with the green jersey, it's fantastic, it feels like getting younger," Cavendish said. "I'm back. It's a dream."

Tadej Pogacar clinched a second successive Tour de France general classification title as Mark Cavendish narrowly missed out on a record-breaking 35th stage win.

It was a racing certainty that Pogacar would be crowned on the Champs Elysees on Sunday after dominating the 21-stage tour, having secured top spot on Saturday ahead of the largely processional finale in Paris.

Cavendish made sure of the green jersey as the tour's top sprinter, but hopes of a 35th stage win were dashed when Wout van Aert snatched glory in the French capital.

Cavendish had powered from 30 stage wins at the start of the 2021 Tour to 34 during the course of the past three weeks, matching Eddie Merckx's long-standing record, but the Manxman could not nose ahead of Van Aert in a frantic finish.

Van Aert's success means his Belgian compatriot Merckx continues to hold a share of that stage-win record, and it raises the question of whether Cavendish will return in 2022 in an effort to take sole ownership.

The sprint was suitably phenomenal, with Jumbo-Visma's Van Aert keeping enough in reserve to get ahead of countryman Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), who took second, and third-placed Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

It means Van Aert became the first Tour rider since 1979 to win a sprint, a mountain stage and an individual time trial in the same edition of the race.

The time-trial success came on Saturday, and it was remarkable he had so much left in the tank 24 hours later.

Van Aert said on Eurosport: "This tour has just been amazing. It's been such a roller coaster, but to finish with a weekend like this is beyond expectations."

His next target will be an Olympic gold, with Van Aert revealing he was due to travel from Paris to Tokyo later on Sunday.

He realised after sealing victory that he would be a man in demand over the coming hours.

"I guess I put myself in trouble because I have to take a flight tonight," Van Aert added. "We'll see if I can get there.

"It's definitely not a pity. I went for it today because a victory like this is priceless."

Tadej Pogacar was unable to secure a time trial victory on stage 20 of the Tour de France but will complete the formality of back-to-back general classification triumphs in Paris on Sunday.

On last year's penultimate stage, Pogacar overhauled a 57 second deficit to fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic to snatch the Yellow Jersey, completing one of the most staggering turnarounds in the history of the race.

Such drama was never on the cards on the 31 kilometre route to Saint Emilion, given UAE Team Emirates' Pogacar boasted a lead in excess of five minutes, which Jonas Vingegaard trimmed slightly but not significantly as the race heads to its ceremonial conclusion in the French capital.

As such, he never had to pursue the stage win and its associated undue risk, with victory going to Wout van Aert in a time of 35 minutes and 53 seconds.

The Belgian rider has enjoyed a superb Tour and this was his second stage win – a sharply contrasting success to him twice conquering Mont Ventoux on a historic stage 11.

“It is quite something, winning a Tour de France time trial has been one of the biggest objectives in my career," Van Aert told ITV. "I've been really focused on this day in the last couple of days and I'm so happy that I can finish it off. The course was perfect for me."

Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team-mate Vingegaard came in third, consolidating second place in the general classification standings, while fellow Dane Kasper Asgreen was runner-up on the day, 21 seconds in arrears.

Pogacar rolled in 57 seconds shy of Van Aert's mark in eighth, having long made this year's Yellow Jersey his own.

STAGE RESULT

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 35:53
2. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +0:21
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:32
4. Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) +:0:38
5. Nils Politt (EF Education-Nippo) +0:44

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 79:40:09
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:20
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +7:03

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 304
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 269
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 216

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

Alongside Pogacar's coronation in Paris, much of the focus will be on whether Mark Cavendish can sprint to glory on the Champs Elysees and go clear of the great Eddy Merckx with a 35th stage win of his career.

Tadej Pogacar sealed the king of the mountains jersey and consolidated his dominance of this year's Tour de France with a second successive stage win.

Defending champion Pogacar stormed to victory up the Col du Portet on Wednesday and, a day later, he was charging clear of nearest general classification rivals Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) to clinch another summit success.

On the final mountain stage before the Tour rolls towards Paris, UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar was in a four-man breakaway with around 700 metres to go, and it was at that stage he made his move.

With Movistar's Enric Mas having run out of gas, Pogacar propelled himself through into the final part of the second hors categorie climb of Thursday's 129km route through the Pyrenees.

Pogacar was able to enjoy his win as he went over the line, with Vingegaard nipping ahead of Carapaz into second place – another repeat from Wednesday.

With the Luz Ardiden climb the final mountain of this year's Tour, Pogacar also won the race for the polka-dot jersey, taking it from Wouter Poels.

It capped a troubling day for Bahrain Victorious, whose team hotel and coach was raided by French police.

The only chance of Pogacar letting his grasp on the yellow jersey slip will come in Saturday's time trial. The equivalent stage last year saw Primoz Roglic lose his lead to Pogacar, who will almost certainly win the general classification, mountains classification, and young rider's classification for the second straight year.

"Why should I be worried, sometimes you can have a really bad day on a TT, let's hope it’s not a repeat," said Pogacar, who is only the fourth rider to win consecutive summit finishes at the Tour

"It was a game for me since I started, I'm enjoying playing it."

The day's intermediary sprint gave Mark Cavendish cause for celebration, as he took 11 points with a fifth-place finish, seeing Michael Matthews lose ground in the hunt for the green jersey.

Cavendish, and his Deceuninck–Quick-Step team-mates, coasted over the line with six minutes to spare before the time cut off, and will now aim for a record-setting win on Friday.

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 75:00:22
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:45
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:51

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 298
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 260
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 208

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

A 207km rolling route follows on Friday, which should result in a sprint finish in Libourne – Cavendish is the rider to watch, as he looks to make it 35 stage victories at the Tour de France.

Tadej Pogacar took another giant leap towards defending his Tour de France title with victory up the Col du Portet on stage 17.

The UAE Team Emirates rider benefited from excellent work by his team-mates on the brutal 178.4 kilometre route, which started in Muret.

Rafal Majka in particular was worthy of great praise in aiding the cause of Pogacar, setting the Slovenian up brilliantly to push for the stage win on the final hors categorie climb.

Anthony Perez, the lone man remaining from the breakaway, was reeled in on the last of the three ascents with 8.5km remaining.

It was Pogacar, Jumbo-Visma's Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz of INEOS Grenadiers, who emerged as the frontrunners for the stage.

Despite dealing with gradients of 13 per cent, Pogacar always looked comfortable and there was never any doubt he would respond when Carapaz attacked 1.5km from a finish 2,215km above sea level, the highest of this year's Tour de France.

There was an element of surprise to that move, Carapaz having done little to help Pogacar and Vingegaard manage the climb while looking on the verge of being dropped.

But Pogacar called his bluff and it was he who clearly had the most left in the tank, surging clear in the final 200 metres to claim his second stage win of this year's Tour.

His lead at the top of the general classification stands at five minutes and 39 seconds from Vingegaard with three stages left before the final processional ride to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.

STAGE RESULT

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 5:03:31
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:03
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:04
4. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +:1:19
5. Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +1:26

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 71:26:27
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:39
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:43

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 287
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 251
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 201

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 78
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 67
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 66

What's next?

Does Pogacar have enough left in his legs for another hors categorie finish. The penultimate and final ascents are on the 129.7km ride from Pau to Luz Ardiden are each HC climbs as the Tour sees it's final mountain stage of 2021.

Given his lead in the GC, Pogacar does not need to make such an effort, but he might have the appetite for another win to emphasise his dominance on stage 18.

Sepp Kuss claimed his second ever stage victory as he triumphed at the Tour de France on Sunday, with Tadej Pogacar keeping control of the yellow jersey.

Jumbo-Visma's Kuss, who came into this year's Tour as a support rider for Primos Roglic, took his chance on the final, steepest climb of Stage 15, with around 20km of the 191.3km route into Andorra remaining.

The American rider – who won his previous Grand Tour stage in the 2019 Vuelta a Espana and is based in Andorra – held off competition from Alejandro Valverde, who looked good heading into the final descent of the day, only to burn out before he could catch Kuss.

Wouter Poels, who will take the polka dot jersey off Michael Woods, clinched third place in a sprint finish that also included Nairo Quintana.

Meanwhile, Pogacar expertly handled the general classification group, with Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) unable to close the gap.

It was a bad day for Guillaume Martin, who dropped from second in the GC to down to ninth, almost eight minutes adrift of Pogacar.

"I was really suffering a lot in this tour, I just didn't feel like I had the spice in the legs," said Kuss.

"Today I knew it was finishing where I live, I was really motivated for the stage and finally I had really good legs again, I'm so happy. 

"It was a hard day in the breakaway, I know the climb fairly well, I don't ride it so much in training because it's so hard. I knew the beginning was really tough, if I went there and got a gap I could try and hold it to the finish."

Supp's aim will now be to back Jonas Vingegaard, who kept Jumbo-Visma's dwindling GC hopes alive by moving himself into third, though he is still some way back from defending champion Pogacar.

STAGE RESULT

1. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 5:12:06
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:23
3. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) +1:15
4. Ion Izagirre (Astana) same time
5. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education First) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 62:07:18
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 207
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 174

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 74
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 66
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 64

What's next?

Monday sees the final rest day of this year's race, with Le Tour resuming with a 169km route from Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens on Tuesday.

Bauke Mollema reigned supreme as the Tour de France entered the Pyrenees, storming to a superb solo victory on stage 14 from Carcassonne to Quillan.

Mollema secured a second Tour win after his triumph on the ride to Le Puy-en-Velay in 2017, with this success coming in similar fashion.

The Dutchman made a decisive break, riding the final 40 kilometres out on his own at an average speed of 43.4km/h for that section, while he took on the last 25km in solitary fashion four years ago.

"Its super nice. It's amazing to win a stage again, I'm super happy," said a Trek-Segafredo's Mollema after prevailing by one minute and four seconds from Patrick Konrad and Sergio Andres Higuita in second and third respectively on the 183.7km route.

"It was as super hard day. It took so long until the break finally went

"It was a nice group but we were not working together so well. So I thought, 'let's go'. I did like 45km alone so it was hard, but I'm super happy."

Guillaume Martin came in +1:28 down in the chasing group, an effort that saw him move up to second in the general classification.

Martin, of Cofidis, is the only rider within five minutes of reigning champion Tadej Pogacar in the Yellow Jersey, making up enough time on the final climb of the Col de Saint-Louis to drop Rigoberto Uran down to third.

Michael Woods and Wout Poels were part of the 14-rider breakaway from which Mollema emerged and pushed their King of the Mountains claims, battling for points in each of the classified climbs.

Israel Start-Up Nation's Woods claimed the haul he needed to take the lead in that contest from Nairo Quintana and Poels, even if this success was somewhat tempered by him crashing on the descent of the Col du Castel.

Once the Canadian re-joined the breakaway it soon became clear he and his colleagues had no answer to Mollema.

STAGE RESULT

1. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 04:16:29
2. Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:04
3. Sergio Andres Higuita (EF Education-Nippo) +1:04 
4. Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +1:06
5. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) +1:10

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 56:50:12
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +4:04
3. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 187
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 174

King of the Mountains

1. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 54
2. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
3. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 49

What's next?

Sunday's 15th stage is set to be a particularly gruelling affair, with three category one climbs included in the 191.3km ride from Ceret to Andorre-la-Vieille. The second of those is Port d'Envalira, the highest point on this year's Tour at 2,408m above sea level.

Wout van Aert claimed a superb victory after Wednesday's unprecedented double climb of Mont Ventoux as Tadej Pogacar came through a stern examination of his bid for back-to-back Tour de France titles on stage 11.

It was the first time in Tour history that riders climbed the imposing and iconic Giant of Provence twice in the same stage and Belgium's Van Aert showed his superb all-round capabilities after finishing second to Mark Cavendish in the Green Jersey during Tuesday's sprint finish at Valance.

The Jumbo-Visma rider crested Ventoux first the second time around and then showcased his expert descending skills to claim an unforgettable first Tour win in five hours, 17 minutes and 43 seconds, ending the day triumphantly for his team after colleague Tony Martin suffered another painful fall and withdrew.

"I'm lost for words," Van Aert said. "It's stupid to say but I wanted to win this stage before the Tour de France.

"Maybe it's my best victory ever. If you believe in it everything is possible. It's emotional."

Pogacar's advantage is now five minutes and 18 seconds, ahead of Rigoberto Uran, with Australia's Ben O'Connor dropped by the Yellow Jersey group inside the final 30 kilometres to fall from second to fifth overall, behind fourth-placed Richard Carapaz and Van Aert's team-mate Jonas Vingegaard.

Vingegaard supplied the most dramatic moment of the day when he dropped Pogacar near the end of the second ascent and opened up a 37-second gap.

Pogacar was able to claw that back in the company of Uran and INEOS Grenadiers' Carapaz to cross the line in fourth – ahead of his Danish rival Vingegaard, who was given the same time of +1:38 having exposed hitherto unseen hints of weakness within the favourite's considerable armour.

World champion Julian Alaphilippe was the first over the summit of Ventoux on the initial climb but faded from contention.

Fans lining the route at least had something to cheer as Frenchman Kenny Elissonde crossed the line in second alongside Bauke Mollema – the Trek-Segafredo duo each clocking in at +1:14 behind Van Aert.

STAGE RESULT

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 5:17:43
2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) +1:14
3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +1:14 
4. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +1:38
5. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +1:38

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 38:25:17
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 218
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 160
3. Jasper Philipsen  (Alpecin-Fenix) 142

King of the Mountains

1. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 44
3. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 42

What's next?

After a day of hard toil, the sprinters can again be the main attraction on stage 12, with the 159.4km route from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Nimes expected to end in a bunched finish.

Mark Cavendish pocketed a 33rd Tour de France stage win in expert fashion in Valance, closing to within one of Eddie Merckx's all-time record.

The resurgent sprint great claimed his third win of this year's race and was quick to pay tribute to the lead-out work of his Deceuninck-Quick-Step team, who left him in prime position to see off Wout van Aert and Jasper Philipsen with 150 metres to go.

Cavendish has extended his advantage over Michael Matthews in the points classification to 59 and, provided the 36-year-old emerges from the Alps unscathed, he will have the tantalising prospect of pulling level with Merckx in Paris when the Tour concludes on July 18.

"It was an old-school, run-of-the-mill, like you read in the cycling magazines, textbook lead-out," Cavendish said. "Just getting the lads on the front, pull as fast as they can so no one can come past you.

"We knew this finish, I didn't make it the last time we came here in 2015, I got dropped, but we studied it and we knew if we took that last corner wide, we could keep the speed up.

"I'm just humbled. I've got the winner of the Tour of Flanders [Kasper Asgreen], the world champion who’s been in the yellow jersey here [Julian Alaphilippe], Michael Morkov, who's going to the Olympics to try to win the Madison, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner [Davide Ballerini] leaving everything on the road for me.

"I just had to finish it off. I’m grateful to all of them. I didn't have to do anything – just the last 150 metres. I'm thankful to everyone."

A stage that was always one for the sprinters to target meant, as expected, there was no change in the general classification picture, with Tadej Pogacar retaining his two minutes and one second lead over Ben O'Connor.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 4:14:07
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic) 
5. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 38:25:17
2. Ben O'Connor (AG2R La Mondiale) +2:01
3. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 218
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 159
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 136

King of the Mountains

1. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 42
3. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 39

What's next?

Pogacar has the chance to definitively stamp his authority all over this year's race during Wednesday's 198.9 kilometre stage from Sorgues to Malaucene, which features a double ascent of the infamously daunting Mont Ventoux.

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