Britain’s Mark Cavendish made history at the Tour de France, equating the record of Belgian great Eddy Merckx with 34 victories in the stage.
The Deceuninck-Quick Step driver won the sprint in Carcassonne a few inches ahead of his teammate Michael Morkov.
“I dreamed about it as a child. I worked so hard for it,” Cavendish said.
Britain’s Simon Yates of Team Bike Exchange left the race after a collision in which several drivers fell down a ravine.
Tadej Pogacar of the UAE-Team Emirates remains in the leader’s yellow jersey of the day to be remembered for Cavendish’s exploits, 13 years after his first Tour win.
Emotionally and physically exhausted, Cavendish hugged each of his teammates in the finish and cried out “we’ve made history” as he hugged Davide Ballerini.
Cavendish added: “I’m so dead – 220km in that heat, in that wind. I went so deep there – they were amazing boys. I can’t believe it.
“For many days it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. I was so on the border. You saw it in the end [which was] slightly uphill.
“It’s just like my first [win on the Tour]. It was what I dreamed of as a child and what I dream of now. I tried so hard for it. “
‘Maybe they’ll beat him’
If Cavendish can survive the mountain phases in the coming Pyrenees, it could still obscure the trail set by Merckx, a five-time overall Tour winner, in 1975.
The Manx driver should have two more chances to take the record directly, first on stage 19 in Libourne and then on the last day of the race at the Champs-Elysees in Paris, where he had previously won four times.
The stage at 219.9 km from Nimes was marked as an escape day, but Deceuninck-Quick-Step largely maintained control of the peloton with Ballerini and Morkov, arguably the world’s best rider, coming to the fore late.
“He [Cavendish] he knew I was choosing the right moment, “said Danish rider Morkov.” He had a wonderful win. It’s just the second race I’ve done with him. The experience he has is extraordinary.
“We went on this tour thinking, ‘if we could lead him to victory in one stage, it would be more than unbelievable.’ Now he took four. A few years ago he told me he only needed one Tour de France for a connection maybe will defeat him. “
Results of phase 13
1. Mark Cavendish (GB / Deceunick-Quick-Step) 5 hours 04 minutes 29 seconds
2. Michael Morkov (Den / Deceunick-Quick-Step) Same time
Jasper Philipsen (Bel / Alpecin-Fenix)
4. Ivan Garcia (Sap / Movistar)
5. Danny van Poppel (Sun / Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert)
6. Alex Aranburu (Banja / Astana)
7. Christophe Laporte (Fra / Cofidis)
8. Andre Greipel (Ger / Israeli start-up nation)
9. Magnus Cort (Den / EF Education-Nippo)
10. Jasper Stuyen (Bel / Trek-Segafredo)
General classification after phase 13:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo / UAE Tim Emirates) 52 hours 27 minutes 12 seconds
2. Rigoberto Uranus (Col / EF Nippo for Education) + 5 minutes 18 seconds
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den / Jumbo Visma) + 5 minutes 32 seconds
4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu / Ineos Grenadiers) + 5 minutes 33 sec
5. Ben O’Connor (Aus / AG2R Citroen) + 5 minutes 58 seconds
6. Wilco Kelderman (Sun / Bora-Hansgrohe) + 6 minutes 16 seconds
7. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz / Astana) + 6 minutes 30 seconds
8. Enric Mas (Spa / Movistar) + 7 minutes 11 seconds
9. Guillaume Martin (Fra / Cofidis) + 9 minutes 29 seconds
10. Pello Bilbao (Banja / Bahrain winning) + 10 minutes 28 seconds