Mark Cavendish abandons World Championships 2021 road race

The British sprinter pulled out at the halfway point after a hectic open to the racing

Mark Cavendish at the 2021 Tour of Britain
Mark Cavendish at the 2021 Tour of Britain
(Image credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish has abandoned the World Championships 2021 road race.

The British sprinting superstar was the most experienced rider in the eight rider GB squad racing in Flanders, helping to guide the line-up of young stars, which includes Tom Pidcock and Ethan Hayter.

Cavendish rode the opening 100km of the brutal 268km-long men’s race race in Flanders, before he was seen leaving the circuit to head towards the team buses, after a thrilling start to the event. 

Just a day after the 10-year anniversary of his own World Championships victory in Copenhagen, Cavendish lined up in a phenomenally strong British squad for this year’s Worlds, which mixed the experience of Cavendish, Luke Rowe and Ben Swift with the youth and power of Pidcock, Hayter, and Connor Swift. 

Tom Pidcock is expected to be the chosen leader for the British team, but Ethan Hayter has also been in remarkable form this season. 

Speaking before the race, Hayter said: “Everyone knows, I think, Tom's the leader here, but it's gonna be really exciting." 

He added: “Obviously, if the race is right for Cav, he's shown he's one of the fastest guys in the world. So we'll see how the race unfolds because it's unknown, it's hard circuits and it just depends how [our rivals] race, how early the race starts, and how that works.” 

>>> How to watch the Flanders 2021 World Championships road races: Live stream the brutal Belgian race

The men’s road race exploded into life surprisingly early, as the French team kicked off an attack from the peloton 180km from the finish, which was followed by a potential winner Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), and Magnus Cort of Denmark.

That move set up a fascinating chase as the Italian team tried to keep that group in check, before the favourites all came back together just over 100km from the finish.  

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Alex is the digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.