Sean Kelly has backed Mark Cavendish to break Eddy Merckx’s record of stage wins at the Tour de France after the Manx’s win on Stage 4.
Cavendish made an emotional return to the top of cycling on Tuesday after being propelled to victory by his Deceuninck–QuickStep teammates.
The 36-year-old, who admitted he never thought he would race again at the Tour let alone win, moved to 31 wins at the Grand Tour – three behind Merckx.
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And Kelly believes that his sudden renaissance can propel him beyond the Belgian legend.
"It's a real dream now. Mark knows he can beat these guys,” said Kelly.
“Coming into this Tour he knew he had to have the feeling that he can do something but you're always concerned how fast the new guys are in the final 100 metres.
“Now he's done it, now he's got the confidence and he has the team around him, that record - he very much capable of getting it."
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Cavendish will have a chance to double up soon with another flat stage awaiting the peloton on Thursday after a 27km individual time trial.
“An amazing sprint and an amazing guy the way he’s made this recovery,” continued Kelly.
“He’s just unbelievable. He’s got it for many years and is back where he was many years ago. He was just waiting in that wheel then kicked for it and comes over comfortably enough.
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“Another guy might try to take it much earlier but Mark Cavendish has that experience and that power. He’s got that fitness level again, where does it come from? He’s worked on it for a long time and it doesn’t come just like that.
“At any level you need that mental power to get back in there but at the higher level of course there are more expectations on you.
“The press [were] going to ask: ‘are you finished, are you going to win another race’. Suddenly something just clicked but it’s all that work as well.
“It takes a lot of time to get back. That’s what Mark has been through. He’s been working on it and now he is getting the fruits of it.”
‘So special!’ – Tearful Cavendish celebrates with teammates
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