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Mark Cavendish: I don't have a desire to stop racing

SCHOTEN BELGIUM OCTOBER 14 Mark Cavendish of The United Kingdom and Team Bahrain Mclaren Breakaway during the 108th Scheldeprijs 2020 a 1733km stage from Schoten to Schoten Scheldeprijs FlandersClassic SP20 on October 14 2020 in Schoten Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Cavendish in the breakaway during Scheldeprijs on Wednesday (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Bahrain McLaren sprinter Mark Cavendish has reiterated his desire to continue riding next season ahead of the final races of his 2020 season. The admission comes days after an emotional interview at Gent-Wevelgem, where the Briton had admitted it might be his last race as a professional.

Speaking before the start of Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, Cavendish attributed his emotions to a rumour that the remainder of the Belgian Classics could have been cancelled, making last Sunday's race – where he rode in the breakaway – his premature final bow.

That has proved not to be the case with the running of Scheldeprijs, where Cavendish took his first professional win back in 2007, and where he has once again made the breakaway on Wednesday. Sunday's Tour of Flanders and Dreidaagse De Panne-Brugge next week are also on his upcoming schedule.

"There were rumours at the start of the race that the rest of the races would be cancelled," Cavendish told assmbled reporters at the start of Scheldeprijs on Wednesday morning.

"I don't have next year sorted yet and it dawned on me that it could be the last race of the season and potentially my career. Obviously, I wear my heart on my sleeve and especially with racing here in Belgium – here in Scheldeprijs was my first win as a professional.

"I was looking forward to this race and I was enjoying racing in Belgium. It's pure racing like when I was a kid again."

Cavendish reiterated that he hopes to continue racing next season. His contract with Bahrain McLaren expires at the end of this year and there has yet to be any public confirmation of a contract offer there or elsewhere.

"I don't have a desire to stop," he said. "I don't want to stop. I love this sport. I give my life to this sport and I'd like to continue riding my bike."

The 2011 world champion has struggled for form in recent years, suffering with the Epstein-Barr virus in 2017, with the illness – and recovery process – affecting subsequent seasons too.

But despite not having taken a win since February 2018, he still spoke proudly about his career to date, adding that he has looked to contribute to the sport in other ways.

"That's relative," he said about his results. "80 per cent of riders don't win a race in their career, you know. I'm fortunate that I'm looked at if I don't win it's a problem.

"In 2016 I made a jump to give something back to the sport I worked with Qhubeka [at Dimension Data]. I looked at using what I've done in the sport to give back to the sport I love.

"To see it grow in the UK, to see kids and people riding and loving the sport – I know there's more than winning to give to the sport. Of course, I want to win but unfortunately, it's how it is – if I'm second it's looked as bad whereas if another rider is second then it's possibly good."