Data visualisations by Chris Jensen | Words by Wade Wallace
Yesterday Mark Cavendish tied Bernard Hinault with the second most Tour de France stage wins in stage 3. It was his 28th stage win at 31 years of age, but he still needs six more wins to equal Merckx’s 34 wins. Merckx was 30 years old at this point.
So how does Mark Cavendish stack up against the greats of the sport? It’s not an apples to apples comparison as cycling is a different sport now and riders such as Merckx and Hinault won all kinds of stage classifications, not to mention five overall Tour de France wins each. Merckx and Hinault won most of their Tour de France stages in the time trials (with 16 TT wins each, including TTT’s). But with today’s specialisations, preparation and arguably deeper competition, Mark Cavendish can certainly be regarded among the most successful sprinters of all time.