Mark Cavendish has outlined his intention to continue racing for at least two more seasons after his contract with QuickStep-AlphaVinyl expires at the end of this year.
In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport published on Thursday, Cavendish also said that he would be “prepared” for the Tour de France but added that he would accept the selection decision of his team.
“I want to continue my career for at least two more years,” Cavendish said. “It’s not just that I want to continue riding my bike. I feel I can be competitive for at least another two years. Maybe more, but at least for another two years I can be competitive, I know that.”
Cavendish hinted at retirement in the mixed zone of Gent-Wevelgem in October 2020, but he signed a one-year contract with QuickStep that December and proceeded to enjoy a remarkable resurgence in their colours, winning four stages at the Tour de France to draw level with Eddy Merckx’s record haul of 34.
The Manxman also won the green jersey for the second time in his career, some ten years after he first did so, but he struggled to agree terms on a new deal with manager Patrick Lefevere at the end of last season. Cavendish eventually signed on for another year with QuickStep last winter. The 36-year-old is now represented by the SEG agency, and Dutch website Wielerflits recently reported that his new agent had offered his services to several WorldTour teams for 2023.
Cavendish won stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia in Balatonfüred, but Fabio Jakobsen is currently in line to be QuickStep’s sprinter at the Tour. A year ago, Cavendish was belatedly handed a place in the Tour line-up after Sam Bennett was forced out by injury.
Speaking to La Gazzetta, Cavendish said that he would be “prepared” for the Tour, but he downplayed the idea that breaking Merckx’s record tally of stage wins was a particular motivation.
“The truth is this: if I could only win one more, I’d be happy. If I could win ten more, I’d be happy. The number really, really isn’t a factor for me at all, that’s the truth,” Cavendish said.
“Of course, I’d love to do [the Tour de France], but I’m a professional and I’ve always been a professional and I do what’s required for my team. You know I’ll always be prepared for it, but it’s not my decision. It’s not something that I think or don’t think about. I just do my job.”
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.