Mark Cavendish has insisted that claiming outright possession of the record for Tour de France stage victories is not his sole motivation for continuing his professional career in the colours of Astana Qazaqstan.
After spending the past two seasons with QuickStep, Cavendish was set to sign for B&B Hotels for 2023 before the team’s demise in December, but the 37-year-old subsequently found a home at Astana-Qazaqstan.
“I love my sport. I just love it,” Cavendish told La Gazzetta dello Sport (opens in new tab). |”I’m a bike rider, I always was a bike rider. Why would I not continue?
“I think I’ve done enough for this sport. I think I’ve earned the right to finish when I want to finish and not have someone else telling me when I should stop.”
Cavendish’s wait for a victory in the colours of his new team continues after he made no impression on the bunch sprint in Follonica on stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Manxman explained that he had been stricken by illness in the days after his return from the UAE Tour.
“I got sick after the UAE Tour, and I had a low week in terms of training because I had to recover,” Cavendish said.
“I was going well, and I really wanted to perform here in Tirreno, and at Milano-Torino and Milan-San Remo, but now I’ve got to use Tirreno to get my form back up. We’ll see, but it seems like Giro and Tour are in my plans, so we’ll make a big summer.”
Cavendish equalled Eddy Merckx’s mark of 34 Tour stage wins in 2021, but he missed out on the chance to claim sole ownership of the record when he was not selected by QuickStep for last year’s race. He is set to return to the Tour in July, though he downplayed the specific importance of notching up a 35th Tour stage win.
“For sure, it’s not going to change my life, but as long as I can still be a professional bike rider and win, I want to be a professional bike rider,” Cavendish said.
“And when you’re a professional bike rider, you need goals, and you need motivation. Of course, I want to try and win every race, but the Tour was always where I peaked every year. I’m not going there to win one more, I’m going there to try to win as much as I can.”
Cavendish’s former teammate Fabio Jakobsen won at Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday, while the man who replaced him at QuickStep, Tim Merlier, claimed victory on the opening day of Paris-Nice. Asked if he had expected to stay with Patrick Lefevere’s team in 2023, Cavendish said: “That’s not for me to say. I’m not the…
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