'He was just some chav from the Isle of Man when I first met him': Geraint Thomas reflects on Mark Cavendish's history-making Tour de France return

The 2018 Tour de France winner says it's like turning back time seeing the Manxman winning at the Tour de France again

Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas at the Tour de France 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Geraint Thomas says that Mark Cavendish was just "some chav from the Isle of Man who wanted to be from Liverpool" when he first met him at British Cycling.

Cavendish (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) has equalled the record for the most stage victories at the Tour de France with 34 wins, putting him on the same number as Eddy Merckx.

The 2018 Tour de France champion Thomas rode with Cavendish in the British Cycling academy as well as with him for one season at Team Sky in 2012.

Speaking to ITV, Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was asked what he would've said if he was told that Cavendish would break the record when he first met him: "I definitely would have laughed," he said.

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"He was just some chav from the Isle of Man who wanted to be from Liverpool when I first met him. With his gold Vauxhall Corsa, all supped up, it was terrible. He’s still like that as well."

Cavendish has struggled for form in the last few years, not taking a win since 2018, but in 2021 he has seen a huge change in form winning nine times including four at the Tour de France, bringing him to level with Merckx for the record.

Thomas continued: "It’s just like turning back the clock, you know, I think a lot of people had written him off and he had struggled in, maybe, the wrong environment for him in some of the teams he was at but now he’s thriving at Deceuninck - Quick-Step. It’s great to see him back at his best.

"You know he’s someone who just thrives off confidence as well. As soon as he has a few good results that confidence just goes up. He gets on a roll there’s no stopping him."

The British rider has won every sprint finish he has taken part in after losing out on the first one on stage three of the Tour due to getting caught behind a crash.

"We always knew he was fast. I remember when we turned professional and I chatted to Robbie Hunter, who was a team-mate of mine at the time, he was the sprinter in our team and I was like, ‘oh yeah he’s really super fast’. 

"I’m sure Robbie was a bit like, who am I to say that? I was just some neo-pro, what do I know about anything. 

"But sure enough he’s just proved that he’s super, super fast. He’s a talented guy and once he’s determined, once he has that goal, like a lot of sprinters but him more than most, there’s no stopping him."

Cavendish has at least two more sprint opportunities to break the record and take a 35th win at the Tour but he does have to make it over the Pyrenees and get to the finish before the time cut for him to have a go.

He also leads the points jersey classification with a substantial lead over Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) in second.

Tim Bonville-Ginn
Tim Bonville-Ginn

Tim Bonville-Ginn is one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter.

Bonville-Ginn started working in cycling journalism while still at school and university for a voluntary site based on Twitter before also doing slots for Eurosport's online web team and has been on location at the Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of Britain, UCI World Championships and various track events. He then joined the Cycling Weekly team in late February of 2020.

When not writing stories for the site, Bonville-Ginn doesn't really switch off his cycling side as he watches every race that is televised as well as being a rider himself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager.

He rides a Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on his local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being his preferred terrain.