'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 (opens in new tab), 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.

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Hi, I'm 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. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.