Cavendish expressed his love for racing and stated, “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.” As he celebrated his 38th birthday, speculation about his future in the sport had been mounting, and his retirement declaration now marks the end of an illustrious 17-year career.
Mark Cavendish’s accomplishments have cemented his status as one of the most successful sprinters in cycling history. With 161 career victories, he has triumphed in all three Grand Tours, claimed the 2011 World Championships in Copenhagen, and emerged victorious in the Milan-San Remo race in 2009. Notably, Cavendish shares the record for the most stage wins in the Tour de France, having won 34 stages alongside Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx.
As he looks forward to his final season, Cavendish aims to set a new record by securing his 35th Tour de France stage win. His 14th and last appearance at the prestigious race will take place in July with Astana Qazaqstan. Despite his remarkable achievements, Cavendish remains humble and expressed his gratitude for the opportunities the sport has provided him: “Cycling’s been my life for over 25 years. I’ve lived an absolute dream… The bike has given me the opportunity to see the world and meet incredible people, a lot of whom I’m proud to call friends. I love the sport more than you can even imagine.”
While Cavendish’s retirement marks the end of his professional cycling career, he intends to stay connected to the sport he loves. He emphasized the importance of being present for his family, stating, “It’s important I can see all their school concerts and support them in their sporting competitions, and it’s important I can run around with them without fear of injury or getting sick.”
Beyond his accomplishments on the road, Cavendish has also made a significant impact on the track. With three Madison world titles and a silver medal in the Omnium from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, his prowess extends beyond traditional road races.
In 2020, it seemed that Cavendish’s career was drawing to a close, but he made a triumphant return to form by joining Patrick Lefevere’s Quick-Step team. He achieved remarkable success, winning four stages in the 2021 Tour de France and securing the Škoda Green Jersey for a second time. However, after being left out of Quick-Step’s Tour lineup the following year, Cavendish departed from the team and eventually signed with Astana Qazaqstan.
Although he has yet to claim a victory for his new team, Cavendish has demonstrated his competitiveness during this year’s Giro d’Italia, finishing fourth on one stage and third on another. Despite the significance of breaking the stage win record, Cavendish affirmed that it is not his sole focus before retiring, stating, “If I was on 45 wins on the Tour de France, I’d still be going to the Tour de France to win… If I was on 18, I’d be looking for 19.”
Mark Cavendish’s retirement from professional cycling marks the end of a remarkable career that has left an indelible mark on the sport. As fans and fellow athletes bid farewell to this sprinting legend, his contributions to the world of cycling will be remembered for years to come.