'I owe my career to you': Mark Cavendish pays tribute to former British Cycling coach Heiko Salzwedel

The sprinter has shared his thoughts after his former coach passed away

Mark Cavendish
(Image credit: Getty)

Mark Cavendish has paid tribute to former British Cycling coach Heiko Salzwedel, who passed away earlier this week.

The German, who died aged 64, worked at British Cycling between 2001-2002, 2008-12, and then 2014-18, including guiding the GB team pursuit squad to gold at Rio 2016 with Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Owain Doull. 

"I’ve been thinking all day about what I can say about you, Heiko. But I remember every time something was on your mind, you’d write it in a formal email. So here goes..." Cavendish wrote in his tribute.

"Dear Heiko, I know we haven’t spoken much the last few years, but you always come up in our conversations. Many people in cycling from many different nations. 

"We laugh and sometimes wince, but always talking with pride and respect. Your steadfast stubbornness when you believe in a cause has to be admired and so many of us have been able to achieve our dreams because you pushed for what you believed in.

"Sure we’ve clashed at times, like any two strong-willed people would, but that’ll never take away from how much I owe to you. I owe my career to you, in fact.
I just wish I could say thank you again in person. For everything.

Rest In Peace Heiko Salzwedel. Mark"

>>> ‘A lot of self doubt, but it actually wasn’t that bad’: Joss Lowden reflects on her blistering Hour Record ride

Other riders have also paid tribute, Owain Doull saying: “His loyalty and commitment to ‘his boys’ was a mark of his character. He was one of the first coaches who believed in my potential, and for this I will always be grateful."

“A maverick who didn’t always fit with the British Cycling box culture (in a good way). Embodied one of my favourite quotes: ‘never do a job you aren’t prepared to lose’," added Callum Skinner. “The most hired and fired man at BC. Legend, RIP.” 

Salzwedel worked as a regional trainer for the Brandenburg Cycling Association after his departure from British Cycling in 2019. He is survived by a wife and two children.

Jonny Long

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.


Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).


I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.