Mark Cavendish confirms retirement at end of 2023 season
The Tour de France is up next and the British sprinter is hoping to end his spectacular career with an exclamation point.
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Mark Cavendish, arguably one of cycling’s greatest sprinters, will make his final sprint by season’s end.
Just a day after his 38th birthday, the fiery and ferocious British sprinter confirmed Monday he is putting a finish line on his career at the end of 2023.
Tied with Eddy Merckx with 34 victories at the Tour de France, he’s still holding out hope to end his career with an exclamation mark.
“This is a perfect opportunity to say with absolute joy in my heart that this will be my final season as a professional cyclist,” Cavendish said during a press conference Monday at the Giro d’Italia.
“Right now there’s no need to talk about my short- and long-term plans. I’ll always be a cyclist, that’s for sure,” he said during the final rest day at the Giro d’Italia. “But for this final period I’d like to just enjoy doing what’s made me happy for the last 25 years, and that’s simply to race.”
Racing with Astana-Qazaqstan, Cavendish didn’t name a final race, but he’s expected to start the Tour de France on July 1 in Bilbao, Spain.
Tied with Merckx with the record number of stage wins, he’s holding out hope of one more victory in the Tour.
So far he’s winless in 2023, and kicked to third last week in what’s been his best shot a win so far in this Giro.
“I’ve absolutely loved racing every kilometer of this race so far, so I feel it’s the perfect time to say it’s my final Giro d’Italia and 2023 will be my final season as a professional cyclist,” Cavendish told journalists.
“Yesterday I celebrated my 38th birthday. Like many others I’ve been struggling with sickness during the race as well as the effects of some unfortunate crashes. To get me through, I can’t thank this group of friends enough.”
Cavendish quickly emerged as one of the most prolific and dangerous sprinters in the bunch when he turned pro in 2007, even if he often had a hard time getting over the steepest climbs.
When his teammates pulled him close to the line, he was hard to beat during his prime years. With 161 official wins on the road, his palmarès put him among the elite in cycling history.
Illnesses and other health setbacks saw him in the cycling wilderness for a few years, but he bounded back into the spotlight in 2021 when he won four stages at that year’s Tour to pull even with Merckx.
A winner of a monument at Milan-San Remo, 53 grand tour stages, and the world title on the road, Cavendish also shined on the track, winning Olympic medals and world titles.
Cavendish says he has no regrets.
“Cycling has been my life for over 25 years,” he said.
“It’s taught me so much about life, dedication, loyalty, sacrifice and perseverance, all important things to pass on now as a father.
“The bike’s given me opportunities to see the world, meet incredible people who are involved and not involved in the sport, a lot of whom I call friends.”