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Last year, the assumption was, Mark Cavendish, 38, would race one more Tour de France, win a stage, and secure the most stage victories of all time. He went into the 2023 race with 34 Tour de France stage wins, making him tied with Eddy Merckx for the most
And then, a crash. Cav was forced to abandon the race after a stage 8 crash and a broken collarbone. The whole world cringed with him. It was especially upsetting because Cavendish had come so close to a win in stage 7, when he finished second to Jasper Philipsen after mechanical issues with his bike.
Sometimes a rider takes a crash as a sign that they really are finished. But that’s not how Cavendish operates. If you’ve watched the Netflix documentary about him, it’s no surprise that he wants one more stab at victory. It’s what defines him.
Not so subtle rumors have been circulating for weeks now that Cavendish is in for one more season of racing, but now they seem very much like reality. Road.cc reported that a deal with Astana Qazaqstan to continue racing until at least next summer’s Tour de France is all but confirmed, with both parties negotiating image rights and other minor parts of the contract.
Velo also reported a “99.9 percent” chance that Cavendish will not retire as he announced earlier this year. And Astana-Qazaqstan made it clear during the Vuelta a España that they were totally open to Cavendish returning if he wanted to.
If everything lines up, Cavendish will be reunited with his former coach, Vasilis Anastopoulos, who he worked with at Soudal Quick-Step. Cycling Weekly reported that, “Anastopoulos is expected to leave the Belgian team to join Cavendish at Astana.”
They also reported that Danish rider Michael Mørkøv has confirmed that he too will leave Soudal Quick-Step at the end of 2023. This will reunite the former teammates who have worked together many times. “Mørkøv has long been considered one of the best lead out men in the pro peloton…the duo raced together at the Belgian team in both 2021 and 2022, with Mørkøv helping Cavendish win four stages and the green points jersey at the Tour de France in 2021.”
With Cavendish putting the finishing touches on his contracts and plans for his 15th Tour de France, is it too soon to start the countdown to next July?
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