Mark Cavendish hopes the 2018 Tour de France can help him move a step closer to achieving his final career goal – winning the most stages at cycling's iconic Grand Tour.

Cavendish's stellar career has seen him become one of the most successful riders in the history of the sport, his sprinting prowess bringing him 30 stage successes.

He still trails the great Eddy Merckx by four, though, and missed the chance to narrow that gap last year when he was taken out by Peter Sagan in a bunch sprint in Vittel – a move the Slovakian was thrown out of the race for.

Cavendish suffered a broken shoulder in that incident, and was in the wars again in March when a spectacular crash at Milan-San Remo saw him damage his ribs.

Despite those troubles, the Manxman is happy with his preparation for the Tour and he goes into Saturday's opening stage looking to restart his quest for a place in history.

"It [getting Merckx's record] is an incentive, it’s the only thing I've got left to do," he told a media conference in Mouilleron-le-Captif.

"It is not a target you set out to win at the start of your career, but in terms of races I wanted to win, I've won everything.

"So the only target [I have] is to get that number, it seems so close but it is a big distance away. Winning one stage at the Tour de France makes a rider's career, let alone multiple.

"I'm at a place where I'll do everything I can to do it and achieve it. I'll try and get it before the end of my career."

Stage wins have become the priority for Cavendish rather than winning the sprinter's green jersey, the 33-year-old saying changes to the points system have made the classification battle less appealing.

"The green jersey has not been in my thinking for a few years now," he added. "The points system has changed now, and for my personal goals it didn't work when a certain rider named Peter Sagan came along.

"He [Sagan] is able to get over one climb at the front and then he is away from us. No sprinter goes for the sprinters jersey now.

"[For me] there is no point putting all your eggs into that basket if it's not a realistic expectation."