Mark Cavendish struggling with stomach and heat issues during opening Tour de France stage


Mark Cavendish appeared to be struggling with stomach and heat issues during the opening stage of the Tour de France, which puts at risk his pursuit of breaking a tie with Eddy Merckx for the most career stage wins in cycling’s biggest race

RIMINI, Italy — RIMINI, Italy (AP) — Mark Cavendish appeared to be struggling with stomach and heat issues during the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, putting at risk his pursuit of breaking a tie with Eddy Merckx for the most career stage wins in cycling’s biggest race.

Vomiting while on his bike, Cavendish dropped behind the pack on the very first climb, the second-category Col de Valico Tre Faggi, and four Astana teammates dropped back to help the British rider.

Cavendish equaled Merckx’s mark of 34 stage wins during the 2021 Tour and went close to winning a 35th in the seventh stage in 2023. He crashed during the eighth stage last year, breaking his right collarbone. The 39-year-old Cavendish then put off retirement by a year to come back to the Tour and try again at breaking his tie with Merckx.

The 206-kilometer (128-mile) route from Florence to the Adriatic coastal resort of Rimini marked one of the toughest Tour starts in recent memory, featuring seven categorized climbs and more than 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) of ascending.

Heat was also a factor on the opening day, with the temperature soaring to 36 degrees Celsius (97 Fahrenheit). Teammates dumped water over Cavendish’s head to try and cool him down. Then Cavendish vomited twice, once near the top of the opening climb and again on the descent.

Cavendish was nearly 10 minutes behind the leaders after the opening two climbs and will likely need to finish within an hour of the winner to avoid a cutoff that would end his Tour.

Cavendish, who won his first Tour stage way back in 2008, was just hoping to get by in the opening two stages before aiming for the record in Monday’s third leg, the first flat stage that sets up well for sprinters. There’s another handful of flat stages later in the race.

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AP cycling: https://apnews.com/hub/cycling



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