CLOSE ONE: Britain's Mark Cavendish (right, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey), races towards the finish line to win ahead of Germany's Andre Greipel (centre in white) and France’s Brian Coquard (left) during the third stage of the Tour de France over 223.5km from Granville to Angers.
CLOSE ONE: Britain's Mark Cavendish (right, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey), races towards the finish line to win ahead of Germany's Andre Greipel (centre in white) and France’s Brian Coquard (left) during the third stage of the Tour de France over 223.5km from Granville to Angers. Christophe Ena

Cavendish closes in on stage wins record

CYCLING: Britain's Mark Cavendish has won his 28th stage at the Tour de France after out-sprinting Germany's Andre Greipel in a photo finish in Angers.

The 31-year-old's latest success drew him level with five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault. Only Eddie Mercxz, who also had five Tour victories, has more stage wins with 34.

Peter Sagan retained the race lead with defending champion Chris Froome fourth overall, 14seconds off the pace after three stages.

Britain's Mark Cavendish, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, sprints towards the finish line to win ahead of Germany's Andre Greipel, center in white, and France’s Brian Coquard, second left, during the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 223.5 kilometers (138.6 miles) with start in Granville and finish in Angers, France, Monday, July 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Britain's Mark Cavendish, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, sprints towards the finish line to win ahead of Germany's Andre Greipel, center in white, and France’s Brian Coquard, second left, during the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 223.5 kilometers (138.6 miles) with start in Granville and finish in Angers, France, Monday, July 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) Christophe Ena

Australian Richie Porte remains 1min 45sec off the lead following his puncture on stage two.

Colombia's Nairo Quintana, twice a runner-up to Froome, two-time winner Alberto Contador and Italian rider Fabio Aru, one of the other race favourites on his Tour debut, also all finished safely in the peloton.

Cavendish picked up his first stage win in 2008.

He won his 27th in the first stage on this Tour before this latest success.

The Manx Missile, as he is known, will never threaten a win at the Tour de France but he looks on course to take over the mantle from Merckx as the most prolific stage winner in the history of the race.

"Who thought when I started cycling that I would have my name mentioned in line with Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx. It's pretty amazing," Cavendish said.

Greipel celebrated as the riders crossed the line thinking he had won the stage but a photo finish proved him wrong, though Cavendish had not doubts.

"I know when I win and lose a photo finish and I thought I had it but I still had to wait," he said.

"It was so hairy in the finish but we planned it and I knew I had to come from behind. I wanted to be behind Greipel.

"After I didn't win the first stage last year I was anxious, a bit like Andre today.

"My teammates were phenomenal again. Bernie Eisel and (Aussie) Mark Renshaw did a fantastic job."

Tuesday's fourth stage is the longest of the race at 237.5km from Saumur to Limoges.

Cavendish could be in line for another win as the stage looks set to be another one for the sprinters.



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