The British rider, who has already won four stages in this year’s race, and equalized with Eddy Merckx for the all-time record of 30 stage wins, finished stage 17 from Muret to Col du Portet in a half. hour on winner but five full minutes in the allotted time.Stage 17 was always going to be a major test for Cavendish and a number of sprinters still racing with the 178km stage containing three major climbs – Col de Peyresourde, Col d’Azet and then the final climb to the summit. 16 km long from Col du Portet.
Cavendish took an active role shortly after the start of the stage and patrolled the field as several riders attempted to form a breakaway. While none of his rivals for the green jersey escaped, the Briton could afford to sit in the peloton and wait for the intermediate sprint in Luchon. There he conceded a single point to Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange).
At the foot of the Col de Peyresourde several riders were quickly left behind but Cavendish was well protected by his teammates. He wasted two minutes quickly as UAE Team Emirates set a breakneck pace on the climb, but the Belgian team helped Cavendish contain their losses.
By the time Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) won the stage and extended his lead in the overall standings, Cavendish was still climbing the lower slopes of the final climb, but he would eventually cross the line in 140th place and in the last group on this toad at 34:10.
Cavendish finished alongside four of his teammates, as well as Simon Clarke, Luka Mezgec and the last man on the line, Cees Bol.
In terms of the green jersey, Cavendish is ahead of Matthews by 36 points and Sonny Colbrelli is behind by 86 points. While this lead looks healthy and Cavendish still has two more sprint chances in the final week – including the famous Champs-Élysées finish – the former road world champion has another tough day in the mountains ahead of him with a second consecutive peak. finish at Luz Ardiden to enter stage 18.