Mark Cavendish made Tour de France history on Thursday as he won a sprint finish to take his 35th stage victory at the event.

That saw Cavendish, who won four stages in the 2021 edition of the race, surpass the great Eddy Merckx as the outright record holder for stage wins in the Tour de France.

Cavendish came out on top in a bunch sprint at the end of a 177.4km route from Saint Jean De Maurienne to Saint Vulbas.

At 39, he became the second-oldest stage winner at the Tour de France, behind Pino Cerami, who was 41 when he won in 1963.

"We just wanted to get the run-in to do it. I'm in a bit of disbelief," said Cavendish, who now rides for Astana Qazaqstan team and struggled to finish stage one last week.

"It was a big gamble for my boss and the team. You have to go all-in and we have done it. We did exactly what we wanted to do.

"Every little detail has been put towards specifically today. The Tour de France is bigger than cycling."

Geraint Thomas, Cavendish's good friend and former team-mate, said: "It’s unbelievable I am super happy for him

"To continue to do what he does at his age…at 39, everyone says you get slower when you get older but he has proved them wrong.

"It is great he has the record alone and is not sharing it with anyone. I said 'mate if you win this stage just drop your bike and walk away' but 'he was like, if I win the first one, I'll want to win more,' so he’s definitely going to hang around isn’t he."

Tadej Pogacar, who leads the general classification, quipped he cannot envisage himself taking Cavendish's slice of history.

The two-time Tour de France champion said: "Incredible. A 35th victory for Mark. He came to me and said don’t break the record but I don’t think I can."