Mark Cavendish has declared that he will continue to compete in bike races, stating “I simply adore riding my bike.”
Mark Cavendish has decided to delay his retirement and continue racing until 2024, with the goal of achieving a record-breaking 35th stage win at the Tour de France.
Cavendish officially announced the heavily speculated news in a brief video on Wednesday morning, stating, “Only one more year, right?”
At the Giro d’Italia in May, the 38-year-old had revealed that he planned to retire this winter. During the Tour this summer, he aimed to win a stage and surpass Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins, which he had tied earlier in the year. However, following a close finish in Bordeaux and a mechanical problem near the end, Cavendish unfortunately crashed on stage eight and sustained a broken collarbone, forcing him to withdraw from the race.
There has been a lot of talk about the possibility of Cavendish continuing to race, fueled by his team manager at Astana-Qazaqstan, Alexander Vinokourov, expressing interest in keeping the 38-year-old Manxman on the team for another season. On Wednesday, the team shared a post on social media featuring videos of Cavendish at the Tour and stating, “The race is not finished yet.”
Cavendish later released a brief video expressing that his family had convinced him to continue racing. Despite being ready and content to retire, his love for cycling has been reignited after riding this summer. After discussing with his children, they unanimously agreed that he should continue racing, leading to his decision to race for one more year.
Cavendish said the support of his team had also helped him make the decision. “We’d grown incredibly as a team, Astana-Qazaqstan this year, and it felt like a family, so much so that the first thing Vino [Vinokourov] said to me when I crashed in France was, ‘Why don’t you do one more year?”’
In the end, I would feel a sense of loss without racing. I have a strong passion for racing, but I was content with where I was and knew I could end on a high note. Unfortunately, the outcome at the Tour was not what I had wished for, as I crashed, but I have accepted it for what it is.
Cavendish has not participated in any races since his accident at the Tour. He has been focusing on recovering from surgery to fix his collarbone. However, he is set to compete in the Tour of Turkey, which begins on October 8th.
In 2023, Cavendish became a member of the Astana team after his intended transfer to B&B Hotels fell through. In May, he won the last stage of the Giro d’Italia, just days after announcing his retirement. Although he had previously kept his future plans quiet, the Astana team had been working on building a lead-out train to assist him in his sprinting goals. They also acquired Max Kanter and Davide Ballerini and have been rumored to be interested in Michael Morkov, who helped Cavendish win four stages in the 2021 Tour.
In a remarkable sporting comeback, Cavendish equalled Merckx’s record in the year that he joined the Deceuninck-QuickStep team on a short-term minimum salary deal. He had been without a contract going into the season and feared his career was over. However, an injury to Sam Bennett opened up an opportunity for Cavendish to shine at the Tour, where he won stages four, six, 10, and 13.
These were his initial victories at the Tour since 2016 and marked a triumphant return after overcoming the Epstein-Barr virus and being diagnosed with clinical depression.