“It was maybe the last race of my career,” said Mark Cavendish tearfully in mid-October.
Now, less than nine months later, the 36-year-old has written what is perhaps one of the sport’s most exciting comeback stories.
In the process, the Manxman once again asserted his claim to be the greatest British cyclist of all time and cemented his place as the best sprinter the Tour de France has ever seen.
With 34 stage wins in the bag – tying a record held by Belgian legend Eddy Merckx for nearly half a century – Cavendish achieved what, at one point, seemed almost a formality.
At Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux in July 2016, Cavendish clinched the 30th of his stage victories and, at 31, it was only a matter of time before he matched and then failed. breaks Merckx record.
With a physique naturally suited to sprinting and a poise and acuteness of mind he admitted to training with sudoku puzzles, Cavendish looked destined to become the Tour’s biggest stage winner.
However, Cavendish subsequently ended his participation in the 2016 Tour earlier in order to prepare for the Olympics that year.
And then began a cruel four-year ordeal of accidents, injuries, illnesses – both physical and mental – and the heartbreak of non-selection for cycling’s most famous race; which made the dream of 34 stage victories certain not to be realized.
In 2017, Cavendish retired from the Tour with a fractured scapula after a terrible accident in the final 200 meters of the finish of stage four.
He was knocked out of the 2018 Tour after missing the cut-off time on Stage 11 and, shortly thereafter, announced he would take an indefinite break from cycling as he continued his battle with the virus. Epstein-Barr, …
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This notice was published: 2021-07-09 15:03:00