After his astonishing comeback to claim four stage wins and the green jersey at this year’s Tour de France, Mark Cavendish now believes he has the potential to turn the clock back 10 years and return to the form of his prime – although it is not certain that he will continue racing with the Deceuninck-Quick-Step team in 2022, with negotiations ongoing.
“At the beginning of the year I was adamant this would be my last year, [but] what I’ve gained from this year is that I don’t believe I’ll stay at this level, I believe I will get even better,” said the 36-year-old Manxman as he prepared to start the Tour of Britain, where he has won 10 stages since his first start in 2005, although he has not crossed the line first in his home Tour since 2013.
“I said at the beginning of the year I wasn’t looking for a fairytale but I’ve had a fairytale. It would be easy to say I’m done, [but] I’m still confident I’m on an upward stretch. If I didn’t believe I could get better I would stop. I’m looking at carrying on, I hope it will be with Deceuninck but I don’t know. It’s not down to me.”
Recently, the Deceuninck manager, Patrick Lefevere, said that Cavendish should not get carried away with his success at the Tour de France; in spite of the departure of the Irish sprinter Sam Bennett, the picture at the Belgian team has changed in recent weeks as the Dutch rider Fabio Jakobsen has hit form after serious injury to take three stage wins at the Vuelta a España, meaning that Cavendish is far from Lefevere’s only option for 2022.
Asked where he felt he could make progress, Cavendish said: “In the old days I never lost a race. This year I’ve won a lot, but I’ve come second and third a lot. It’s about consistently winning. I want to go back to when I didn’t lose. I should be able to win whatever race I go to.”
However, opportunities for sprint wins will be hard to find in one of the hilliest editions of the Tour of Britain since its relaunch in 2004. The race returns after two years having skipped 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and its first stage since 2019, across Cornwall, has barely a yard of flat road. Stage two takes in Dartmoor, although the run-in to Exeter is mainly downhill. Stage three is a team time trial, while stage four travels through Snowdonia before finishing up the Great Orme above Llandudno. [SEE The Ful Article]