Mark Cavendish will announce that he will retire from professional cycling at the end of 2023 at a press conference tomorrow, according to reports from Italy.
La Gazzetta dello Sport has reported this morning that the former world champion, who celebrates his 38th birthday today, is set to confirm that this season will mark the end of his 17-year-long pro career during tomorrow’s rest day at the Giro d’Italia.
The British champion, riding the Giro for new team Astana Qazaqstan, has picked up three top tens in sprints at this year’s edition of the Corsa Rosa so far, including an encouraging third place into Tortona on Wednesday, just behind winner Pascal Ackermann, and remains set to lead the Kazakh team in July as he chases that elusive, record-breaking 35th stage win at the Tour de France.
Pascal Ackermann beats Cavendish and Jonathan Milan on a chaotic stage 11 (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)
According to La Gazzetta’s sources, Cavendish will reveal tomorrow that this year’s Tour will be his final attempt to break the record he currently shares with Eddy Merckx, teeing up a potentially fitting and climactic end to a career that has seen the Manx rider cement his status as arguably the sport’s greatest ever sprinter.
Along with those 34 Tour stage triumphs, Cavendish has taken a staggering 161 victories – 53 of which have come in grand tours – while riding for teams such as Columbia-HTC, Sky, Quick-Step, Dimension Data, and Bahrain-McLaren, since turning pro for T-Mobile in 2006. He also won a thrilling edition of Milan-Sanremo in 2009, and two years later took both the points classification at the Tour de France and the rainbow bands in Copenhagen.
After his unexpected comeback success with Deceuninck-Quick Step at the 2021 Tour de France, where he levelled Merckx’s record with four stage wins and took a second green jersey, Cavendish was controversially left out of the Belgian team’s squad for the following year’s Tour.
Cavendish dramatically crashes across the line – and still manages fourth place – on stage five of this year’s Giro (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)
A winter dominated by a protracted transfer saga, instigated by the slow and painful demise of Jérôme Pineau’s ill-fated French project, eventually saw the British champion end up at Astana, where he will be afforded what now appears to be one last opportunity to make yet more history at a race in which he redefined the art of sprinting.
In the meantime, birthday boy Cavendish will have to slog through a tough, hilly stage 15 of the Giro, aided by a disappointingly small cake gifted by the race organisers at the stage start this morning:
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 21, 2023
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.