Cavendish lauded after taking 31st Tour de France stage win

Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) completed a career renaissance making a comeback at the 2021 Tour de France after two years away from the race, winning the 31st Tour de France stage of his storied career.

The Manxmann stormed to the win in Fougères, taking the win ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), the 31st of his career at the Tour de France. The 36-year-old then spent then next half an hour in reverie, surrounding initially by teammates, rivals and team staff congratulating him on the win. 

He collapsed to the ground in tears, then was lost for words in the post-stage interview. 

“I don’t know what to say man," Cavendish said. "Just being here is special enough, I didn’t think I’d be coming back to this race…” said Cavendish. “Just fire from the whole team. So many people didn’t believe in me and these guys do."

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Many had written Cavendish off, the 36-year-old hadn't been expected to make the 2021 Tour de France team for Deceuninck-QuickStep after several down seasons and issues with glandular fever that saw him miss selection in 2019 and 2020, his last win at the biggest cycling race in the world coming in 2016. Cavendish was only selected days before the Tour, when star sprinter Sam Bennett pulled out of the team after not recovering from a knee injury. 

“When you come to Deceuninck-QuickStep you have the best riders in the world so I never thought I was coming here," said Cavendish. "I never want bad things to happen to other people. After these last bad years, it was nice to have that good luck.”



That was echoed by Deceuninck-QuickStep's outspoken boss Patrick Lefevere, who told the story of Cavendish's journey to the Tour and the emotional impact it has had on the squad.

“We have more than 100 wins in big Tours but I’ve never seen the whole staff crying," said Lefevere. "Eight months ago he didn’t have a team, we took him in.

"He had a shit program, all his races were cancelled, then he went to Turkey where he didn’t want to go because of COVID. He wins four stages, he wanted to be at Belgium Tour, last minute he comes, he wins.

"He wasn’t in the Tour, we called him the Saturday before. He wins again. If you’re not emotional now, you never will be."



Cavendish showed that he was in good enough form to challenge for a stage win at the Tour with his victory at the Baloise Belgium Tour, which came against a lot of the riders that he would face in France, but to actually do it on the biggest stage that cycling has is another matter entirely.

“Otherwise we don’t bring him," said Lefevere of the importance of that victory. "That last at the Tour of Belgium, ok, it’s only the Tour of Belgium but you have to beat Caleb Ewan, Philipsen, Merlier, all those guys and he did it.”

“It’s typical for Americans or English to always say ‘thank you, thank you’ but I know when he says it he means it. You come here with a minimum salary, we give you the chance, you can only thank me with your pedals. That’s what he did."

Tour de France continues with Stage 5, a mostly flat individual time stage over a 27.2 kilometre course finishing in Laval. Watch the action on SBS and SBS OnDemand from 2030 AEST, and the SKODA Tour Tracker from 2005 AEST.  


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4 min read
Published 30 June 2021 at 3:51am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS