Who has won the most Tour de France stages?
Which rider has held their arms aloft most in cycling's greatest race?
by Colin Henrys
Updated: July 20, 2016
Mark Cavendish became only the second rider in Tour de France history to reach 30 stage wins in the race, when he outsprinted Marcel Kittel to win stage 14 of the 2016 Tour.
The Manx Missile started the race on 26 stage wins before taking that tally to 27 with victory on the opening stage at Utah Beach – pulling on the yellow jersey for the first time in the process. Cavendish then moved level with Hinault after edging out Andre Greipel by the narrowest margin in Angers on stage three.
Victory on stage six Cavendish move clear of Hinault with 29 wins to further underline his reputation as cycling's greatest ever sprinter, and stage 14 saw him reach the 30 mark.
Cavendish's four stage wins in this year's race, alongside victories for team-mate Steve Cummings and Chris Froome have also taken the British tally to 65 – overtaking Switzerland (60) as the eighth-most successful nation at the Tour de France in the process.
Here’s a closer look at the other riders in the all-time top ten list for Tour de France stage wins.
1) Eddy Merckx (34)
With 525 victories in an 18-year professional cycling career, there isn't an awful lot Eddy Merckx, the Cannibal, failed to achieve in cycling.
Therefore, it's no surprise to see the five-time former Tour de France winner top of the tree when it comes to all-time Tour stage wins, with 34 stage wins to his name in all.
His first arrived in 1969, after an attack on the Ballon d’Alsace, and by the time the race finished he had a further five to his name including a solo win on stage 17 when his effort striking out alone over the Tourmalet, Soulur and Aubisque saw him finish the stage suffering with the effects of hypoglycaemia.
After finishing that Tour as overall winner by nearly 18 minutes, points classification winner, King of the Mountains, combination prize winner and the combativity award, Merckx went on to win 34 Tour de France stages in all, and 64 across all three Grand Tours – both still records today.
2) Mark Cavendish (30)
Mark Cavendish was written off in some quarters before the 2016 Tour de France having only picked up one stage win in the previous two Tours.
His 2014 race ended with a crash on the first stage while in 2015 he was regularly outsprinted by Andre Greipel, despite appearing to be the form sprinter prior to the race, and 'only' picked up a single win.
The Manx Missile has roared back this year, however, winning both the first and third stages to first claim his first ever yellow jersey before moving level with Bernard Hinault on 28 career stage wins. Cavendish then extended that tally to 29 on stage six, outsprinting rival Marcel Kittel in a head-to-head drag race and beat Kittel again on stage 14.
The yellow jersey was the first of three major targets for Cavendish in 2016, with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Cavendish has been selected as part of Great Britain's track team) and the UCI Road World Championships also on the agenda.
3) Bernard Hinault (28)
Le Blaireau remains the last French winner of the Tour de France, having picked up his fifth overall title in 1985.
Between 1978 and 1986, Hinault also picked up 28 stage wins, and prior to Alberto Contador was the only rider to win all three Grand Tours twice.
Hinault won three times at his final Tour in 1986, despite riding as domestique to Greg Lemond – two were in individual time trials, but he also won on Alpe d’Huez after a stinging attack, crossing the finish line arm in arm with Lemond.
Hinault would go on to finish that race in second place meaning, between 1978 and 1986, every Grand Tour he finished was in either first or second place.
4) Andre Leducq (25)
Andre Leducq was one of France’s foremost cyclists in the interwar period, winning the Tour twice and picking up 25 stage wins in the process.
A former amateur world road race champion, Leducq was in seemingly unstoppable form in the 1932 edition, winning the third stage in Bordeaux to claim the race lead and maintaining it all the way to Paris, picking up five more stage wins in the process.
The time bonuses awarded for stage winners at the time,meant the Frenchman won by more than 24 minutes overall, though had the race been decided on overall time alone, Germany’s Kurt Stopel would have only been three seconds back.
That race also saw him pass 20 stage wins – only the second rider ever to do so after Nicolas Frantz. Victory in Paris on the final stage confirmed his place as the race’s most successful rider up until that point.
5) Andre Darrigade (22)
Prior to Mark Cavendish, 1959 world champion Andre Darrigade was the Tour’s best ever sprinter – collecting 22 stage wins in all.
Dubbed the greatest French sprinter of all time by journalist Raphael Geminiani, Darrigade’s success also saw him win the Tour’s opening stage five times – wearing the yellow jersey 16 times in all as a result.
Racing in an era when national teams rode the Tour de France, with Louison Bobet and Jacques Anquetil the French GC riders, but Darrigade remained a popular figure thanks to his sprinting ability.
Comfortable sprinting from a long way out, he was simply peerless in his generation.
6) Nicolas Frantz (20)
Nicolas Frantz was the first rider to reach 20 stage wins at the Tour de France, which he did across six editions from 1924 to 1929.
The Luxembourg rider was a two-time back-to-back Tour de France champion too, and held the yellow jersey from start to finish in the 1928 race.
He clocked his 20th stage victory in Paris on the final day of the following year’s race, but only raced one more time at the Tour de France when national teams were introduced – finishing 45th in 1932.
7) Francois Faber (19)
Though born in France, and considering himself a Frenchman, Faber’s father was from Luxembourg, making Faber the first foreign winner of the Tour de France in 1909.
Faber, who also won Bordeaux-Paris in 1911 and Paris-Roubaix in 1913 relished increment conditions, and that paid off when he won the Tour.
Second the previous year, having won his first four stages, Faber starred in 1909 in foul weather for racing – bagging victory on the second day after a 200km solo effort on the 398km stage to Metz.
That set the tempo for the rest of the race, with the Luxembourg rider winning again the following day in freezing conditions after attacking on the Ballon d’Alsace with more than 100km still to race.
In all, Faber won five consecutive stages – still a Tour record – and would surely have been the first to 20 career wins were it not for the First World War, where he was killed in action.
8) Jean Alavoine (17)
Frenchman Jean Alavoine’s career was also disrupted by the Great War, with the two-time French champion collecting six stage wins pre-war and then a further 11 after the war.
Also a two-time Giro d’Italia stage winner – where he also finished third overall in 1920 – Alavoine’s most notable successes came in the first Tour de France after the war.
Winner of the fourth stage, Alavoine made it two from two the following day in Bayonne; the 482km (300-mile) stage was the longest in Tour history.
A versatile rider, Alavoine also won a mountain stage to Perpignan in the 1919 race before two further victories in Marseille and Paris – the latter, on the final day, seeing him snatch second place from Eugene Christophe overall.
Alavoine was second overall again in 1922, after three consecutive stage wins – again including the 482km stage from Les Sables d’Olonne to Bayonne, and two wins in the mountains – but lost his chance of winning the race after suffering from a cold and several mechanical issues.
9) Jacques Anquetil (16)
Jacques Anquetil was the first cyclist to win the Tour de France five times, which he did with success in 1957 and four consecutive victories between 1961 and 1964.
Anquetil won 16 stages in all, 11 of which were in individual time trials – highlighting the phenomenal ability against the clock which brought him his Tour stage wins.
His long-running rivalry with Raymond Poulidor defined the era in French cycling, almost dividing the country in terms of who the public supported.
Anquetil’s final stage win at the Tour de France came on the final stage of the 1964 race, a 27km individual time trial from Versailles to Paris, and helped him beat Poulidor by just 55 seconds, the smallest winning margin in the race’s history at that point.
9=) Rene Le Greves (16)
A silver medallist on the track in 1932, French sprinter Rene Le Greves turned professional on the road in 1933 and won his first Tour de France stage that same year in Caen.
Usually stronger in the second half of the Tour, Le Greves picked up another 15 stage wins in all, including six in 1936, which he rode as French national champion.
His final victory arrived in 1939 before, like so many of his peers, his professional cycling career was to be curtailed by the war.
9=) Charles Pelissier (16)
Three-time French cyclo-cross champion Charles Pelissier was the younger brother of French riders Francis and former Tour winner Henri but clocked more stage wins than both of them combined.
His record of eight stage wins in the 1930 Tour still stands today, shared with Eddy Merckx and Freddy Maertens, and Pelissier also pulled on the yellow jersey three times thanks to his stage wins.
His success in 1930 saw him win the first stage to wear the yellow jersey and then – after a further three stage victories – finish with four consecutive wins in the final four stages too.
Only Mario Cipollini in 1999 has matched those four consecutive wins since, and Pelissier’s record is even more remarkable when you consider he was in the top three on 18 of the 21 stages.
It was only in the high mountains that he lost time, with the 50 minutes he ceded to Andre Leducq between Nice and Grenoble costing him any hope of overall victory.