Mark Cavendish hints at early retirement after Gent-Wevelgem

BahrainMcLarens British rider Mark Cavendish competes in the GentWevelgem In Flanders Fields one day cycling race 2325 km from Ypres to Wevelgem on October 11 2020 in 2020 in Ypres Photo by DIRK WAEM BELGA AFP Belgium OUT Photo by DIRK WAEMBELGAAFP via Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Mark Cavendish (Bahrain McLaren) has indicated a possible early retirement following the conclusion of Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday. Speaking to Sporza (opens in new tab)in a post-race interview, and with tears in his eyes, Cavendish said, "That’s perhaps the last race of my career now."

Cavendish was part of the breakaway during the men's 232km race between Ypres and Wevelgem, and then he finished 74th place upon the conclusion of Gent-Wevelgem.

In a post-race interview with Sporza, Cavendish stated that this could be his final race, and when asked by Sporza to confirm if it was in fact the last race of his career, Cavendish said, "maybe, yes."

Cavendish, 35, is considered one of the best road sprinters of all time in professional cycling. He has had an illustrious career that includes 30 stage wins at the Tour de France.

Cavendish's statement comes as a surprise as he is scheduled to compete at Scheldeprijs next week on October 14 in Schoten, Belgium.

He has struggled for results this season and started Gent-Wevelgem in a support role for his Bahrain McLaren teammate Dylan Teuns, who finished 10th. The team indicated that Cavendish would be in a leadership role at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. Cavendish has won Scheldeprijs on three occasions in 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Cavendish's contract with Bahrain McLaren expires at the end of this year, however, team manager Rod Ellingworth revealed on Saturday, from the Giro d'Italia, that negotiations between Cavendish and Bahrain McLaren for 2021 were still on-going. 

Ellingworth was speaking to reporters at the start of stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia in Giovinazzo, where he was asked about Cavendish's future at Bahrain McLaren and he said, "We're still working out the roster for next year. We're working on it."

Reporters further asked Ellingworth if deadlines have been set to decide on whether Cavendish will continue with Bahrain McLaren, and if he expected Cavendish would race on into 2021, and he said, "There's so much happening with teams folding and so on, so we're keeping everything open at the moment. But I'm sure he's going to stay racing, yeah."

Cavendish did not participate in the Tour de France with Bahrain McLaren this year, after the team put their efforts behind GC leader Mikel Landa. At that time, however, Cavendish said he wasn't ready to compete at the Tour de France, particularly due to this year's tough mountainous parcours and because he didn't have enough race-day preparation due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Cavendish has competed at the Tour de France from 2007 through 2018, and he has won 30 stages of the French Grand Tour. However, he hasn't competed at the Tour de France since 2018. He did not compete in the Tour with Dimension Data in 2019, after the team did not select him to the roster. He had recovered from a long struggle with Epstein-Barr virus and said he was ready to perform at the Tour de France last year.

Doctors first diagnosed Cavendish with Epstein-Barr in 2017, but a blood test ahead of the Tour of California last May, showed that he was below the threshold for being sick with the virus for the first time in two years.

 Alongside his 30 stage wins at the Tour de France, he has also won 15 stages at the Giro d'Italia, 3 stages at the Vuelta a España, 10 stages at the Tour of California, Milan-San Remo in 2009, and the elite men's road race world title in 2011. Cavendish's career extends beyond road racing and onto the track, where he is a three-time world champion in the Madison.

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Kirsten Frattini
Women's Editor

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.