Mark Cavendish has just finished racing the Giro and to say he didn’t have a smooth run would be an understatement, various crashes and some incredibly close sprints to the line just emanate that he still has ‘what it takes,’ and is the powerhouse we have always known. There is no question as to whether Cav could continue his remarkable career, being able to retire on such a level will be a prominent exit.
But it’s hard to believe we have just half a summer to watch Mark Cavendish race, but with his recent retirement announcement, we are saying goodbye to one of the cycling greats.
“The man is a one-person torrent, a singular point of focus, a machine. He is wildly, crazily alert, oddly sensitive, weirdly funny, deeply intelligent, belligerent and kind. He is hard to understand and the easiest person to identify with. There is no one like him.” Ned Boulting.
Cavendish tells us ‘he’s lived an absolute dream,’ and we don’t doubt it, seeing him relish in the peloton and take an unthinkable number of wins was our pleasure. His career has been something most could only dream of, a Palmarez full of exceptional results and adventures to fill his heart for a lifetime, stories to tell his children as they grow and grandchildren when the time comes.
But the time has come for him to take on different adventures. Cav is ready to step away from the intensity of his sport and spend the rest of his life at home – though, we have no doubt he will always be involved in the sport – maybe we’ll see him presenting?
Rounding up a career like Cav’s will be difficult, it’s a loss to the sport. Cav was the first to take sprinting to a new era. It didn’t matter that he didn’t look like a stereotypical cyclist, because he had the fastest legs and results to prove the way people ‘look’ is often a misconception of the sport.
Cav will have no trouble telling you that an exceptional lead-out train is what aided and abetted him in being such a prolific winner, contrary to popular spectator belief – it’s a team sport and most likely always will be.
His parting with the peloton announcement came during a conference on one of the Giro d’Italia’s rest days – one that had been rumoured for a short while, but one none of his fans wanted to be confirmed.
‘I feel it’s the perfect time to say it’s my final Giro d’Italia and 2023 will be my final season as a professional cyclist.’
A trip down memory lane might be the only way to close the chapter on such an exceptional career.
Prior to Cav’s Road career, he had a very successful one on the track – we guess that’s where he gets the fast legs from. Having come from a successful time on the track, winning was no stranger to Cav. Various golds at UCI Track World Madison champs and he took gold in the 2006 Commonwealth Games for the Isle of Man.
However, in 2005 Cavendish turned professional as a road cyclist, achieving eleven wins in his first season, things were already looking exceptional for the Manx man. To come into your first professional season and take on such success was often unheard of, it was true, he was flooded with hunger for more and this was the just the start.
In 2021 Cav wrote his name in history, again. Returning to the Tour de France, he won four stages and the green jersey equalling Eddy Merckx’s record tally of stage victories.
2021 saw Cav take 10 professional wins, from the Tour of Turkey to the Tour de France, a successful year to return with after such an awful worldwide year in 2020, returning to some normality within the peloton was enough to fill anyone with overwhelming joy and endorphins.
In 2022 Cav won the British National Champs Road race with a great display of talent. A masterclass to the peloton, while providing proof he is not just a sprinter and can perform when without his trusty teammates, his performance echoed the difference between the domestic and professional scene. His race was full of attacking and break-aways, finished off with another exceptional sprint to take the stripey jersey home.
What a Giro the 2023 race was potentially one of the toughest the riders had ever experienced with the weather conditions. Cav worked hard to maintain his results in the Giro, pushing through with everyone and hoping for sunnier days to arrive, allowing him to end his Giro stint on a high, before moving onto the rest of his closing season.
Geraint Thomas made sure to aid Cav in achieving more greatness, with an exceptional lead-out for his ex-teammate and close friend. Thomas could see Cav’s leadout needed a little bit more help and didn’t think twice, jumping on the front to help get them up to speed so Cav could take the last sprint win - a truly glorious and heartwarming act of sportsmanship.
Now, with over 160 wins in his career, we have some wonderful memories of Cav in The Road Book, that we have no doubt will hold extra onos to his fans and the 2023 book is looking even more anticipated with such news.
Cav Round-up May 2023
- Years professional – 16
- Grand Tour Apps – 22
- Wins – 166
- UCI Ranking – 129th
Ned Boulting documented Cavendish’s 2011 Tour de France in his short eBook “How Cav Won The Green Jersey”. Subscribe to The Road Book Society and you can enjoy Ned’s audiobook version for free.