Mark Cavendish, who shares the record of 34 Tour de France stage wins with Eddy Merckx, plans to retire from road cycling after this season.
Cavendish, who turned 38 on Sunday, made the announcement on Monday’s rest day at the Giro d’Italia, where he is riding for the Astana Qazaqstan team.
“Though the tough conditions, I’ve absolutely loved racing every kilometer so far, so I feel it’s the perfect opportunity to say with absolutely joy in my heart that this will be my final Giro d’Italia, and 2023 will be my final season as a professional cyclist,” he said, surrounded by his wife and children. “I will always be a cyclist, that’s for sure, but for this final period, I’d like to just enjoy doing what’s made me happy for the last 25 years, and that’s simply to race.”
If Cavendish is, as expected, on Astana’s Tour de France roster for July, he will bid to break his tie with the Belgian legend Merckx for Tour stage victories.
Last year, Cavendish was a Tour de France reserve for his previous team, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, so he didn’t get a chance to break the tie with Merckx.
In 2021, Cavendish returned to the Tour for the first time since 2018 as a last-minute replacement, coming back from an Epstein-Barr virus diagnosis. Surprisingly, he won four sprint stages to tie the career record accumulated by Merckx in the 1960s and ’70s.
Cavendish, who earned his first Tour stage win in 2008, is now older than all but two men to win a stage in Tour history, according to ProCyclingStats.com.
Cavendish won the points classification in all three Grand Tours and ranks third in stage wins combining the Giro, Tour and Vuelta with 53. Merckx won 64. Italian Mario Cipollini won 57.
Cavendish competed at three Olympics in a different event each time — placing ninth in track’s madison in 2008 with Bradley Wiggins (as the lone British track cyclist not to win a medal), 29th in the road race in 2012 (as a hope to win Great Britain’s first medal of the London Games) and earning silver in track’s omnium in 2016.
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