Mark Cavendish wins Stage 7 of the Tour de France

Fougeres (France): Mark Cavendish won his 26th Tour de France stage on Friday as he inched closer to Eddy Merckx's overall record.

The Belgian great is still well clear out in front with 34 but his fellow five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault is only two stages ahead of Cavendish now.

Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish celebrates his victory in the seventh stage of the Tour de France, a 190-km stage between Livarot and Fougeres yesterday. Pic/ Getty Images

The Briton flew past Andre Greipel in the final 50-metres to break the German's strangled-hold 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 Manx Missile found a gap down the inside of the burly German as Peter Sagan went around the outside to win by a half bike's length.

"The gap was there and I just went for it. Greipel's a gentleman he could have closed it — Sagan would have closed it," said Cavendish. The win was Etixx-Quick Step's second in a row and third of this Tour and went some way to making up for losing the yellow jersey due to Tony Martin's broken collarbone.

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