Mark Cavendish to Miss Out on Milano-Sanremo in His Final Season

cycling italy tirreno adriatico stage 2
No Milano-Sanremo for Mark CavendishDIRK WAEM - Getty Images
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If you were hoping that this year’s Milano-Sanremo would come down to a finishing sprint, you may have to change your calculations for who would be victorious: Mark Cavendish won’t be singing his swan song at that particular race. Instead, the Astana Qazaqstan Team is apparently prioritizing racking up as many UCI points as possible in the early parts of the season, and Cavendish’s priorities have shifted accordingly.

Of course, the 180-mile Milano-Sanremo doesn’t always come down to a sprint—recent years have seen greats like Mathieu van der Poel, Matej Mohorič, Jasper Stuyven, and Wout van Aert emerge victorious via solo efforts in the final kilometers or smaller two-man sprints. The last bunch sprint that made it to the finish line took place eight years ago.

But longtime cycling fans may recall Cavendish’s dramatic 2009 win at La Classicissima, which was made all the more important in the sport because it was the 100th edition of the Italian race. He was only 23-years-old at the time.

britain's mark cavendish r of team col

And if you want to feel a little bit choked up, just enjoy this shot of Cavendish after that win, completely overcome at the finish line:

cycling 100e milan sanremo
Tim de Waele - Getty Images

So, why won’t he be on the start line? In an interview with CyclingNews, Cavendish explained that his team is prioritizing UCI points acquisition in order to maintain their WorldTour status for the coming years. “Milan-San Remo will always be a special race for me, but this season, I also have a job to do,” he told CyclingNews during the Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriático.

While other riders are prepping for Milano-Sanremo, he’ll race Milan-Torino, taking place three days prior, in hopes of a win. Thus far in the season, he’s only scored one win, a stage in the Vuelta a Colombia in February. But as even he grudgingly admitted in the interview, the one-day race tactics have changed considerably over recent years, with more being won via dramatic breakaways. (Case in point: Last weekend’s Strade Bianche.)

That isn’t to say the Manx Missile doesn’t have his own goals for the season: Currently, he’s tied with cycling legend Eddy Merckx for Tour de France stage wins (a whopping 34 wins thus far), and all he needs is a single stage to cement his place in cycling history.

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