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Mark Cavendish to miss Tour de France, shot at breaking record

108th Tour de France 2021 - Stage 6

CHATEAUROUX, FRANCE - JULY 01: Mark Cavendish of The United Kingdom and Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step Green Points Jersey celebrates at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021, Stage 6 a 160,6km stage from Tours to Châteauroux / @LeTour / #TDF2021 / on July 01, 2021 in Chateauroux, France. (Photo by Stephane Mahe - Pool/Getty Images)

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Mark Cavendish was named as a Tour de France reserve for Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, meaning he is in line to miss the Grand Tour that starts Friday and a chance to break his tie with Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins in Tour history.

Last year, Cavendish returned to the Tour for the first time since 2018 as a last-minute replacement, coming back from an Epstein-Barr virus diagnosis. Surprisingly, he won four sprint stages to tie the Belgian legend Merckx at 34 career Tour stage victories.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl instead tapped Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen, who won five stages at the 2021 Vuelta a Espana and has 10 wins overall this year, to make his Tour debut this year.

At 37, Cavendish is older than all but four men to win a stage in Tour history, according to Next year, he will be older than all but two men to win a stage in Tour history.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl also left world road race champion Julian Alaphilippe off its Tour team, saying he is not 100 percent recovered from an April 24 race crash.

Alaphilippe, who wore the Tour de France yellow jersey for 18 stages over the last three years, fractured a shoulder blade and two ribs, plus suffered a collapsed lung in a Liege-Bastogne-Liege crash.

“I have a natural affection for the race, from my days in the yellow jersey over the past three seasons, my stage victories and many other great memories with my teammates,” Alaphilippe said in a press release. “To miss another opportunity to wear my beautiful rainbow jersey in my home country is very sad for me and I knew that this decision would be difficult for the team to take. At the same time, I completely understand this, because I too don’t want to be at the start if I can’t be at my best level.”

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