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Mark Cavendish’s Emotional Victory: ‘It’s beautiful, what a way to end my Giro d’Italia’

By Monica Buck

Mark Cavendish has a glittering career decorated with 162 race victories but his most recent win on the final stage 21 of the Giro d’Italia in Rome is undoubtedly an extraordinary feather in his cap. This victory holds a special significance as it marks Cavendish’s swansong on Italian soil before he retires.

The Giro d’Italia has been a journey of emotional and physical trials for Cavendish, ever since he announced his impending retirement at the conclusion of this season. The affection and camaraderie that Cavendish shares with his colleagues were evident as he embraced his teammates and staff beyond the finish line in Piazza Venezia. This symbolic victory took place at the foot of the grand Altare della Patria monument, making it even more memorable.

Reflecting on his victorious moment, Cavendish expressed, “It’s beautiful, what a way to end my Giro d’Italia. My first Grand Tour victory was here in Italy in 2008, in Reggio Calabria, so to win in Rome is special. It’s the first time I’ve raced here, so to win is super nice.”

The cyclist couldn’t hide his excitement as he recounted his joyous journey in Italy, and his heartfelt gratitude towards Rome, the city that marked his final race win. “I couldn’t have ended my racing career in Italy in any better way than winning in Rome. It’s a beautiful place to race. It’s perfect, really perfect.”

Cavendish’s victory was not a lone effort but a result of a well-strategized game plan. Geraint Thomas, Cavendish’s friend and fellow cyclist, played an instrumental role in assisting him during the final kilometres. When asked about his contribution, Thomas casually admitted, “I thought I’d help a brother out.”

Cavendish manoeuvred himself past Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) and entered the slipstream of Fernando Gaviria. As chaos ensued with other riders clashing and Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) crashing into the barriers, Gaviria launched his sprint early, thereby creating a flawless final lead-out for Cavendish. The latter couldn’t resist praising Thomas, “He’s so special and one of my best friends over the years.

“I’d kind of said jokingly, ‘Fancy doing a lead out?’ Then he just shouted: ‘Cav!’ and did it,” Cavendish explained, praising Thomas.

Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish has officially announced his retirement from the sport at the end of the 2023 season. © Profimedia

Cavendish further highlighted Thomas’s optimistic attitude, which had always inspired him. “We saw yesterday with what he said, how upbeat and ever optimistic he is, despite losing the maglia rosa. That’s him down to a treat, it’s how he’s always been. He always sees a glass half full. That’s why he’s special. More than a great bike rider, he’s a ‘f***ing good person and a friend.”

Affirming that his Giro d’Italia victory was nothing short of a fairytale, Cavendish commented on the ups and downs he encountered during the race. From securing the fourth position in Salerno, third in Tortona, to even eighth in the rain in Viareggio following a hilly stage over the Apennines, Cavendish was in relentless pursuit of a victory, which had eluded him in the 2023 season until this moment.

“To win with the boys, my friends and teammates, it’s one of those special stories that you have to get emotional about and tell it with your hands like Italians do,” Cavendish quipped, highlighting the camaraderie and unity within his team. He also credited his success to the unwavering support from his team during his challenging times.

As Cavendish embarks on a new chapter post-retirement, he leaves behind an inspiring legacy and an indelible mark on the world of cycling.

Giro d’Italia 2023 Stage 21 Results – Rome to Rome

1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) – Astana Qazaqstan, 2h 48m 26s
2. Alek Kirsch (Lux) – Trek-Segafredo, same time
3. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) – Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè, same time
4. Alberto Dainese (Ita) – DSM, same time
5. Alexander Krieger (Ger) – Alpecin-Deceuninck, same time
6. Jake Stewart (GBr) – Groupama-FDJ, same time
7. Fernando Gaviria (Col) – Movistar, same time
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) – Jayco-AlUla, same time
9. Arne Marit (Bel) – Intermarché – Circus – Wanty, same time
10. Campbell Stewart (Aus) – Jayco-AlUla, same time

Giro d’Italia 2023 General Classification after Stage 21

1. Primož Roglič (Slo) – Jumbo-Visma, 85h 29m 02s
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) – Ineos Grenadiers, +14s
3. João Almeida (Por) – UAE Team Emirates, +1m 15s
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) – Bahrain-Victorious, +4m 40s
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) – Groupama-FDJ, +5m 43s
6. Thymen Arensman (Ned) – Ineos Grenadiers, +6m 05s
7. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) – Jayco-AlUla, +7m 30s
8. Andreas Leknessund (Ned) – DSM, +7m 31s
9. Lennard Kämna (Ger) – Bora-Hansgrohe, +7m 46s
10. Laurens De Plus (Bel) – Ineos Grenadiers, +9m 08s