Mark Cavendish praises 'eternal optimist and special person' Geraint Thomas after stage-winning Giro d'Italia lead-out

Manxman also reveals he jokingly asked Thomas for a lead-out during the race

Giro d'Italia 2023
(Image credit: Tim de Waele / Getty)

A victorious Mark Cavendish described his impromptu lead-out man Geraint Thomas as "more than just a good rider, he's a f****** good person, and friend", after the Manxman won the final stage into Rome.

Thomas, who had been forced to concede overall victory to Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in the mountain time trial the day before, paced Cavendish through the second-last kilometre, helping to position him ideally for victory.

"G is so special. He has been one of my best friends throughout my career," Cavendish said after his win, as reported in Het Nieuwsblad. "Saturday night you saw what Thomas really is like. He had only just lost the Giro, but immediately afterwards he was happy again. G is an eternal optimist. This typified him. That's why he's so special."

Cavendish also revealed that he had joked around during the race with Thomas about the Welshman leading him out, not necessarily expecting it to happen.

"I asked him half seriously, half jokingly: wouldn't it be nice to do the lead out for me. And suddenly he yelled: Cav! And he did," said Cavendish.

Thomas confirmed this on his Watts Occurring podcast with Luke Rowe, saying: "Loads of people have been saying how good it was for me to do, but it just seemed natural almost. Maybe because I've done so much with Cav, you just help a mate out don't you, if you can.

"It was just great to see him win. You know, his last ever Giro stage in Rome, the Coliseum behind him – pretty sweet that."

Cavendish, winning the final stage in what would be his final Giro d'Italia, said: "This will forever be a very special victory. The picture is perfect."

Having won his first ever Grand Tour stage in the Giro 15 years ago, it had brought him full circle, a fact that was far from lost on the Manxman.

“It is infinitely beautiful to close the Giro d'Italia for good in this way. Here in 2008 in Reggio Calabria I achieved my first ever victory in a Grand Tour. To win in Rome is really special," he said.

It was Cavendish's 17th stage win in the race, bringing him level with Gino Bartali and Adolfo Leoni as the Giro's equal-14th most prolific stage winner.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.