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"Arise, Sir Cav": Mark Cavendish awarded knighthood in King's birthday honours while Chris Boardman receives CBE

39-year-old Cavendish, winner of a record-equalling 34 Tour de France stages, has been recognised for his cycling achievements and charity work, while Boardman's CBE was awarded for his services to active travel...

The King's birthday honours list for 2024 has recognised the achievements of Mark Cavendish, the Manx cyclist awarded a knighthood for his unprecedented achievements as road cycling's greatest ever sprinter. There was also an upgrade from MBE to CBE for Chris Boardman, who was this time recognised specifically for his work as commissioner of Active Travel England. 

Cavendish, 39, joins the likes of likes of Bradley Wiggins, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy as a cycling 'Sir' two weeks before he will line up at the Tour de France in search of his 35th Tour de France stage win, 16 years after he won his first. If he does secure a stage at this year's Tour, Cavendish would pass Eddy Merckx as the most prolific Tour de France stage winner of all time. 

Cavendish's career probably needs no introduction for most of you just catching wind of this news, but it's safe to say it has been glittering. Turning professional with Team Sparkasse in 2005 after winning world championship gold on the track in the madison that year, Cavendish's major success on the road began when he joined T-Mobile Team.

In 2008, he won two stages at the Giro d'Italia and four stages at the Tour de France, and stage victories at the Tour followed every year right through until 2013: six stages in 2009, five in 2010, five in 2011, three in 2012 and two in 2013. Cavendish also won the world championship road race and the Tour de France points classification in 2011. 

> Mark Cavendish’s top 10 greatest Tour de France stage wins

Cavendish was less prolific by his standards in the mid-2010s with a number of crashes and injuries contributing to quieter years, but 2016 saw a return to form as he bagged four stages at that year's Tour. Leaving early to head to the Olympic games, Cav got his first Olympic medal with a silver in the omnium. 

MArk Cavendish after equalling Eddy Merckx's record - picture credit A.S.O./Pauline Ballet

In 2018, Cavendish was forced to take an indefinite break from cycling due to his battle with Epstein-Barr virus, which can cause chronic fatigue. This led to a "dark" struggle with depression, and a marked drop in his cycling performance. 

By 2021, amidst calls for him to retire and the man himself revealing he was ready to quit, Cavendish was offered a one-year contract by former team Deceuninck-QuickStep, and earned a surprise call-up to the Tour de France that year after teammate Sam Bennett was ruled out due to injury. It turned out to be written in the stars, as Cavendish bagged four stage victories and the green jersey to complete one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time.

Cavendish announced his retirement in 2023, but reversed the decision in October after signing a one-year contract extension with Astana Qazaqstan to target a record-breaking 35th Tour de France stage win. 

Cavendish's entry on the honour's list notes that he is also recognised for his charity work. A patron for Help For Heroes for over a decade, the charity notes that Cavendish and his wife Peta have "thrown themselves into many fundraising events and awareness raising activities" over the years. In fact, Cavendish met his wife while she was covering a veteran's event in the USA and he was on a training camp nearby. 

Cavendish's first cycling coach, 74-year-old Dot Tilbury, spoke of her pride after hearing the news that her most successful protegee had been knighted: 

“When I was coaching Mark as a boy, I had no doubt that he would go on to achieve amazing things. He was very passionate and driven – he would study courses to work out the best way around and research the latest gadgets to help him succeed.

“He comes back to the Island regularly and goes cycling with his children. It always causes lots of excitement whenever they are over.

"Everyone in the Isle of Man, from young children to grannies, is so very proud of what he’s achieved. He has inspired many children to think that you don’t have to come from a big city to go after what you want in life." 

A final fact about Cavendish's knighthood: he's only the second man from the Isle of Man to be knighted this century, the other being the late Sir Norman Wisdom back in 2000. 

Chris Boardman (Active Travel England)

As well as Cavendish bagging a knighthood, there was also a CBE for Chris Boardman in recognition of his work as a tireless active travel campaigner, which led to his current post as commissioner of Active Travel England. 

Already awarded an MBE way back in 1992 for his cycling achievements, 55-year-old Boardman has become more prominent in recent years for his cycling and walking advocacy, inspired to act after feeling unable to make a 500-metre journey by bike with his daughter because the traffic conditions were unsafe. 

Boardman has long since campaigned for more segregated cycling infrastructure in the UK, pointing to the Netherlands' extensive cycling network as a prime example, and was instrumental in designing Manchester's Bee Network in his previous role as Greater Manchester's cycling and walking commissioner. He believes this, and normalising utility cycling, is key to making the nation healthier and improving road safety.

Conversely, Boardman has often downplayed the importance of protective equipment when it comes to cycling, telling road.cc in 2014 that helmets are "not even in the top 10 of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives." 

In 2016, Boardman's mother Carol was killed by a driver while cycling. He has spoken about the catastrophic effects of dangerous driving and lenient sentencing since her killer was eventually handed 30-week prison sentence and 18-month driving ban in 2018: “I would like to see more driving bans", said Boardman after the sentencing. 

“Driving is a privilege, so I don’t want those people who commit crime – and that’s what this is – become a burden on society. I’d just like them not to be able to do that to anybody else ever again.”

> "No family should go through what mine did”: Chris Boardman speaks about losing his mum at the hands of killer driver for the first time

After receiving the news of his CBE, Boardman was quoted in the Wirral Globe as saying: "I’m delighted to receive this honour for services to active travel.

“I started this journey many years ago when my daughter, Agatha, wanted to ride to the park. Even though it was just 500 metres away I felt I had to say no, because I wasn’t sure I could keep her safe. That felt wrong, so I decided to do something about it.

“Nearly 20 years on, the fight has never been more relevant, so it’s been an easy cause to champion, especially as I know most parents would love transport independence for their kids too. And if they have it, we all do.”

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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9 comments

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ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
7 likes

Sorry, but anyone who accepts such an honour immediately drops down slightly in my estimation. For example, Alan Bates fought the establishment that screwed him for decades. Now he's getting a gong, and will kneel in front of a billionaire to be tapped on the shoulders with a sword of state. The same state that jailed his fellow postmasters, because they were little people, and if the great and the good said they had stolen, then they must be guilty. And for what? For the same thing that a Saudi tycoon paid Charles's people cash for - sorry, "donated" to his charity - or that a 30-year-old aide got for bringing Boris Johnson cups of coffee.

Avatar
mdavidford replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
4 likes

Username checks out.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
7 likes
uberdemocrat wrote:

And for what? For the same thing that a Saudi tycoon paid Charles's people cash for - sorry, "donated" to his charity - or that a 30-year-old aide got for bringing Boris Johnson cups of coffee.

That's a disgraceful comment and an appalling slur on our great former prime minister, implying that he would hand out peerages for bringing him cups of coffee. He gave her a peerage because she's one of his secret love children, or possibly because he'd been playing Emperor and the slave girl behind Carrie's back with her, although hopefully not both.

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john_smith replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
1 like

Dropping down slightly in your estimation will no doubt detract enormously from his satisfaction. Also, you forgot to mention "the blob" and "metropolitan elites".

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lonpfrb replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
0 likes
uberdemocrat wrote:

Sorry ... Alan Bates fought the establishment that screwed him for decades. Now he's getting a gong

Apology not accepted.
Clearly the award to Alan Bates is for his commitment to fact based justice against institutional corruption so something to be celebrated by Democrats for the rule of law.

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chrisonabike replied to lonpfrb | 1 month ago
1 like

Paula got a gong too though? As sometimes do those whose primary contribution to democracy is handing big bungs to the party in power.

I'd say it's that the system is sufficiently well-established that it's comfortable rewarding both those kissing it and even a few of those kicking it (some of whom of course don't take up the offer to be inside the tent, emitting out...)

Avatar
MichaelWinnerRIP | 1 month ago
7 likes

I am so thrilled for Cav, a huge honour for the greatest sprinter and a thoroughly nice guy. Congrats also to Chris Boardman and his essential work for Active Travel, a well deserved CBE.

Also spotted, a BEM for Ernest Feargrieve, lead race mechanic for GB Cycling Team. 

 

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Surreyrider replied to MichaelWinnerRIP | 1 month ago
2 likes

Thoroughly nice guy?

Avatar
dodgy replied to Surreyrider | 1 month ago
1 like

Well he is when he's winning.

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