'Mark Cavendish is by far Britain’s greatest bike rider' - Philippa York on the Manxman's final Tour de France

British Mark Cavendish of Astana Qazaqstan pictured at the start of the second stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race, from Camaiore to Follonica (198km), Italy, Tuesday 05 March 2024. BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM (Photo by DIRK WAEM / BELGA MAG / Belga via AFP) (Photo by DIRK WAEM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Mark Cavendish leaves Piazza della Signoria, Florence at midday on Saturday, he’ll be starting the fifteenth Tour de France of his long and spectacular career. If all goes well, twenty-one stages later he will be in Place Masséna, Nice atop a Wilier SLR time trial bike and completing his final Tour stage.

During the three weeks of racing on the roads of four different countries – Italy, San Marino, Monaco and France – he has eight chances to win a stage. Eight days when the organisers ASO have deemed the profile to be flat and suited to sprinting, Mark Cavendish’s trade at this race since 2007.

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Philippa York

Philippa York is a long-standing Cyclingnews contributor, providing expert racing analysis. As one of the early British racers to take the plunge and relocate to France with the famed ACBB club in the 1980's, she was the inspiration for a generation of racing cyclists – and cycling fans – from the UK.

The Glaswegian gained a contract with Peugeot in 1980, making her Tour de France debut in 1983 and taking a solo win in Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees, the mountain range which would prove a happy hunting ground throughout her Tour career. 

The following year's race would prove to be one of her finest seasons, becoming the first rider from the UK to win the polka dot jersey at the Tour, whilst also becoming Britain's highest-ever placed GC finisher with 4th spot. 

She finished runner-up at the Vuelta a España in 1985 and 1986, to Pedro Delgado and Álvaro Pino respectively, and at the Giro d'Italia in 1987. Stage race victories include the Volta a Catalunya (1985), Tour of Britain (1989) and Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (1990). York retired from professional cycling as reigning British champion following the collapse of Le Groupement in 1995.