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Cavendish chasing down 'The Cannibal'

updated 3:16 PM EDT, Wed July 3, 2013
2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins leads this year's favorite Chris Froome on the way to his eventual triumph in Paris 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins leads this year's favorite Chris Froome on the way to his eventual triumph in Paris
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  • Mark Cavendish won the fifth stage of the 2013 Tour de France
  • Cavendish has now won 24 stages -- 10 fewer than record holder Eddy Merckx
  • Australia's Simon Gerrans retained yellow jersey

(CNN) -- Eddy Merckx was known as 'The Cannibal' -- but there's one man who's determined to take a large bite out of his stage victories record.

That man is Mark Cavendish -- the man who won Wednesday's fifth stage of the Tour de France and took his tally of wins to 24 to move to within 10 of record holder Merckx.

Merckx, a five-time winner of the Tour, won six stages in 1969 and 1972, and eight in 1970 and 1974 during an illustrious career.

He achieved the treble feat of winning the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and World Championship Road Race in 1974 -- one of only two men to have done so.

But his Tour record is under threat with British rider Cavendish quickly becoming a serious challenger.

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Cavendish came home just ahead of Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen and Cannodale's Peter Sagan in Wednesday's crash affected race.

The Omega-Pharm rider, who won five stages at the Giro d'Italia looked in ominous form, despite suffering from a chest infection.

"I'm still not 100% after being ill last week," he told reporters.

"But it's good to get the account open here at the Tour de France. The morale is good in the team and the only way to make it better is by winning more stages."

Australia's Simon Gerrans retained the leader's yellow jersey following the 228.5 kilometer stretch -- the second longest stage of the Tour.

The Orica-GreenEdge man was pleased with his day's work -- despite teammate and main sprinter Matt Goss being held up by a crash 12 km from the finish.

"Today we had two objectives," Gerrans told reporters. "To try and win the stage and keep the yellow jersey within the team.

"Matt Goss got distanced on the final climb but I still have the yellow jersey on my shoulders and I managed to stay up the front and stay out of trouble."

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