After winning four stages at the Tour of Turkey, chalking up his 150th career victory and proving he can still race successfully at a professional level, Mark Cavendish has said that “whatever comes from now on is a bonus" and that he “wants to help the team where and when is possible and enjoy every day on the bike with The Wolfpack.”
The Wolfpack is Deceuninck-Quickstep's self-styled nickname and Cavendish is deeply grateful to the Belgian team for giving him a chance to join them for 2021 when his career came close to ending in the off-season.
Team manager Patrick Lefevere threw Cavendish a lifeline when others had written him off. Cavendish had to help bring in extra team sponsorship to cover his salary but both were keen to recreate the working relationship that allowed the Manxman to win so much between 2013 and 2015. Cavendish is just grateful to have been given a chance to prove himself.
“I have so much to say thank you for,” Cavendish wrote, reflecting on his recent success in Turkey in a blog post on the Belgian team’s website.
“The Tour of Turkey is not the Tour de France, but just to win again after some years of physical and psychological difficulties is something special. To be able to do it with The Wolfpack is a dream come true. Raising my hands is super emotional, as I felt a lot of people had just given up on me over the last years. But Patrick believed in me, I owe him so much. He is my hero.”
Following his return to success, there have been calls for Cavendish to be given a place in the Deceuninck-QuickStep team for the Tour de France and others thought he might usurp Alvaro Hodeg as the team’s designated sprinter for the Giro d’Italia.
However Cavendish has always shut down speculation about his race programme, accepting that he has to earn a place in the Deceuninck-QuickStep line-up. After spending a long spell racing in Belgium and then Turkey, Cavendish is currently enjoying some time with his family in Britain.
“Now I’m at home and it feels really nice to spend some time with my family after having been away for so many weeks,” he writes.
“I’ll work towards my next races now. I want to help the team where and when is possible and enjoy every day on the bike with The Wolfpack, because whatever comes from now on is a bonus.”
Cavendish finished fourth in the opening sprint at the Tour of Turkey after being bumped out of position by another rider losing their pedal but he was clearly on form and won stage 2, then stage 3 and 4, going on to take the final stage victory to reach 150 career victories.
His smile returned with every victory as he celebrated with his teammates beyond the finish line, especially with Fabio Jakobsen, who was making his return to racing after his terrible crash at the Tour de Pologne.
“It was incredible coming over the finish line first, something I’ve missed for three years,” Cavendish writes.
"I hadn’t won four stages in a race since the 2016 Tour de France. It's a crazy statement, because there are very few riders in history that could talk about winning four stages in a race. But just winning a race, that’s all I wanted to do once more.
“We had a great week and enjoyed ourselves. We can’t complain about winning half of the stages. It’s amazing seeing the guys work for me and afterwards celebrating together. Especially Fabio, having done this Tour of Turkey with him is incredible. I remember him as a neo-pro, I’ve seen him grow. I was there in Poland last year and to have him in the team with us now is great, it’s a big step seeing him back in the bunch after what happened.
“The pride for me that he was involved in the four wins is enormous. Deceuninck – Quick-Step is special, it’s a family. We win together and we lose together.”
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