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Unfortunately, the defending champ of the ŠKODA Green Jersey, Sam Bennett, is not fit enough to race at the 2021 Tour de France. Deceuninck – Quick-Step GM, Patrick Lefevere, therefore had to choose a different sprinter from the team’s ranks. And to the delight of many, he pointed the finger at Mark Cavendish. The Manxman will make his return to the Tour for the first time since 2018 after a series of promising results in recent months. However, as his coach pointed out in an interview for the Tour de Greaves Cycling Show, he will not chase down the legendary Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage victories. Cavendish currently sits in second place with 30 wins.

Vasilis Anastopoulos said: “We’re not going to chase down the record of Eddy Merckx because that’s something he has never talked about. It’s always around the media and journalists who make those questions. For me, personally, I’m really happy that Cav is able to start on Saturday.

Eddy Merckx
Cavendish will not go for Merckx’s record this year. © Profimedia, Roger Viollet

“If he wins a stage, chapeau, it would be great. If he doesn’t, nobody’s going to blame him because he came up from nowhere. He hadn’t won anything for the last three years and went through some really bad moments, he fought with depression, he almost quit last year but everybody knows the story.

“To me, personally, as his coach, I’m already happy he has five wins this year. He proved that he can be up there again with the best guys. He’s not finished yet.”

Mark Cavendish
Cavendish at the tart of the Grote Prijs Vermarc Sport men elite cycling race. © Profimedia

Mark Cavendish started his winning streak at the Tour of Turkey. He won four stages there and went on to win the final stage of the Belgium Tour against some of the biggest world’s names. However, he didn’t win a stage at the Tour since 2016.

The Manxman isn’t expected to change that in the first few stages. Those are more suited to the likes of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) or Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step). The first real chance will present itself on stage four, a pan flat course running 150.4 km.

Will Mark Cavendish beat his rivals? We sure cannot wait to find out.