Reigning Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish has said that sprinters will need to make the most of their opportunities at the 2022 race, which could see fewer mass sprint finishes in comparison to this year's edition.
Cavendish took four victories at his first Tour de France in three years in July, riding the formidable Deceuninck-QuickStep sprint train to a record-equalling 34th Tour stage victory in Carcassonne.
The 2021 race also saw Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) take sprint wins, but Cavendish said there won't be as many chances to win as there have been in years past.
"There aren't as many chances for the fast men as in the past, so you’ll need to try to make the most out of every opportunity," he said following the route presentation on Thursday morning.
"It’s going to be a very hard Tour de France," Cavendish added. "Of course, starting from Copenhagen, where I became world champion, brings back a lot of great memories, but those first days after the time trial could be really hectic."
The 2022 Tour kicks off in Denmark with sprint finishes a possibility on both the second and third stages. Stage 4 to Calais, the first day in France, could be another chance, while stage 13 to Saint-Etienne, stage 15 to Carcassonne, stage 19 to Cahors, and the final stage to Paris are also suited to sprinters.
Of course, July 2022 is still a long way away, and Cavendish could face competition for a spot on the QuickStep-AlphaVinyl team from Fabio Jakobson, who won three stages of the Vuelta a España this year.
First, though, there's the matter of Cavendish's future contract to sort out. He remains in negotiation with the Belgian team over an extension for 2022. Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad, team boss Patrick Lefevere said that the two parties aren't far apart at the moment, adding that the sticking point is over what Cavendish will be doing post-retirement.
"I don't know what's wrong," Lefevere said. "He's putting it off, saying 'we will get there', but tomorrow everything has to be in for us at the UCI. We're not far apart. It's actually more about things after his career.
"You can't speak too soon," he added when asked if Cavendish will race the 2022 Tour. "This year, Sam Bennett was undeniably our first sprinter even though we knew he was leaving. But then it all fell for Mark. You never know.
"Do I see many sprint stages? Not so many. Six? And if they race like they have in previous years, two of them will fall away. So four or five sprints, but it is the riders who make the race."
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Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content on Cyclingnews and takes on live race text coverage throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Tro-Bro Léon, Strade Bianche, and the Vuelta a España.
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