The British sprinting star has re-joined his old team for the 2021 season and has already shown promise in the early-season one-day races, finishing second in his third day of racing this year.
Brian Holm, former pro and now Deceuninck sports director, said Cavendish is fitting into the team well and that if his head is in the right place “he can work wonders.”
After starting his season at the Clásica de Almería in Spain, where he punctured in the final, Cavendish lined up in Belgium for Le Samyn and the Grand Prix Monseré, taking a podium finish in the latter during a bunch sprint.
Holm, who first worked with Cavendish at T-Mobile in 2006, told Cycling Weekly: “He loves those races on the cobblestones and it was nice to see him just jumping around, like he was 22 again.
“That’s something about Cav – you see riders quitting because the head can’t follow anymore, but Cav just wants to ride his bike.”
Holm said that Cavendish had been riding well during the team’s training camp in Spain earlier this year, as the feedback from Cavendish’s trainer was that he was “really fast” and climbing well.
But more importantly, Holm believes Cavendish’s head needs to be in the right place for him to perform: “We knew he would be good. With Cav sometimes, it’s also a little bit the head. If the head is good with him, then he can work wonders.”
Cavendish returned to the team run by Patrick Lefevere for 2021, having previously won 44 races for the Belgian WorldTour squad from 2013-15.
In joining Deceuninck, Cavendish returned to one of the most successful sprinting teams in the pro peloton, as he will race alongside the likes of Sam Bennett, Alvaro Hodeg, and Fabio Jakobsen who is returning from injury.
Holm said that Cavendish fits well into the team, and aside from results, plays an important part in inspiring the younger riders: “I speak with his team-mates around him and they’re really happy he’s back in the team. He’s adapted well into the team.
“He is always good for the team morale Cav. When he’s in the team it’s never going to be boring. He’ll always be one of the boys.
“I think with Bennett, with Fabio coming back, we have Hodeg, who all have to deal with the same problems he probably did in the past, with the pressure, the green jersey, Cav’s been there, so he would always be a big help.”
While Deceuninck and Holm don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on Cavendish’s shoulders, he revealed it would mean a lot to see the 30-time Tour de France stage winner raise his hands in victory once again.
Holm said: “We say no pressure but of course at the end of the day we all dream about him winning a race.
“We have to see in one or two months if he can go for the bigger victories. Never say never. After [Monseré] and Le Samyn, it’s not impossible.”