FOUGERES (France) • Mark Cavendish clinched his 26th Tour de France stage on Friday as he inched closer to Belgian great Eddy Merckx's record of 34 triumphs.
The Briton ended a two-year wait for a stage victory when he flew past Andre Greipel in the final 50m to break the German's stranglehold on sprint finishes at this year's race.
Greipel had won the first two sprint finishes in which Cavendish could manage only fourth and third but the Etixx-Quick Step rider found a gap down the inside of the burly German to triumph by a half-bike's length.
"I'm very happy, I waited a week now for this win personally," Cavendish said. "The team's been phenomenal, it's just me that's let them down in the sprints.
"They could have saved themselves for other days but they didn't and went full gas for the win."
Greipel held on for second spot ahead of Peter Sagan to keep hold of the green points jersey.
Sagan, though, moved up to second in the overall standings with his four bonus seconds for finishing third, and is now just 11sec behind Tour leader Chris Froome.
Right from the off, a five-man breakaway went clear, including Eritrea's Daniel Teklehaimanot, the Tour's first African rider.
The 26-year-old had taken the king of the mountains polka-dot jersey on Thursday and wanted the one climbing point on offer, which he duly took 14km into the race.
TOUR DE FRANCE
Stage 9: StarHub Ch212, 8.45pm