It was one of the toughest days of the Tour de France, and while the front of the race saw Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) go one better after his second in the bunch sprint the day before to win a mountain stage, at the back it was the man who beat Van Aert the day before that finished one of the furthest behind, rolling over the line 40 minutes and 40 seconds in arrears.
The green jersey holder beat the time cut by seven minutes after almost six hours of racing, finishing alongside Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates Davide Ballerini, Michael Mørkøv, Tim Declercq and Dries Devenyns.
"We knew today we were not going to be as close to the time limit as we were on Sunday, but still we had to be focused the whole day. My teammates were there with me, helping me up and down the mountains," Cavendish said.
"I'm very tired - I guess everybody is. I've done many Tours de France, but this for sure is one of the hardest. Being here is very cool. I spoke to [race director Christian] Prudhomme on the eve of the race and I told him how much I love this race. I'm a man of my word, so I won't quit; I'll keep going for as long as I can."
Team DSM's double stage winner last year, Søren Kragh Andersen, also found himself battling potential elimination, with a frantic final sprint to the line, the Danish rider was the last man home, sneaking in under the time cut by just three seconds.
Luke Rowe (INEOS Grenadiers) was the only rider to miss the time cut, though seven other riders abandoned during the stage, including Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) and Australian Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ).
Cavendish paid tribute to Tom Simpson at the memorial towards the top of the Mont Ventoux which marks the spot where the British rider lost his life in 1967. A Deceuninck-QuickStep video posted on social media showed the British rider throwing a cap onto the memorial as he passed by.
The Tour de France continues with Stage 12, a 159.4-kilometre stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Nîmes, with Mark Cavendish potentially in with a chance of equalling the Tour de France all-time stage victory record. Watch from 2130 AEST on SBS, SBS VICELAND and the SKODA Tour Tracker for all the action from the race.