Mark Cavendish has vowed to return to Ghent Six Day and win alongside Iljo Keisse, having narrowly missed out on the podium places at this year’s race.
In a week of racing in-part marred by crashes, the Maes 0.0% duo just missed out on the top three, finishing fourth, as they lost a lap in the final Madison race with Kenny De Ketele and Robbe Ghys taking a last gasp overall victory in the final lap sprint.
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“We can keep our heads held high and say we gave everything we had at Ghent,” Cavendish said. “After my crash on the first night, it was always going to be tough to recover and play catch up for the remaining five days. But we gave everything we had. Until the very end.”
Cavendish’s crash thankfully resulted in no serious injuries, but Gerben Thijssen suffered awful injuries and was placed in intensive care after a crash on the first night of racing.
After six days a number of teams were all still in contention to take the overall victory in the final Madison event, with Keisse and Cavendish launching first to try and take back a lap from the German duo of Roger Kluge and Theo Reinhardt. This move failed, with Ghys/De Ketele and the pairing of Jasper De Buyst and Tosh Van der Sande then attacking to contest the final few laps between themselves.
“The final hour was a pure street fight between five teams,” Cavendish continued. “We kept taking the lead, but couldn’t keep a stronghold, in the end finishing fourth. But proud, behind a podium of warriors. Congratulations to Robbe Ghys and Kenny De Ketele.”
This isn’t it for Cavendish, though, who has vowed to return in the future to try and win the storied event with his Belgian team-mate, having previously finished second with Keisse in 2014, before taking the overall victory alongside Bradley Wiggins in 2016.
“Whatever the result, for anyone from our generation to get the opportunity to ride with Iljo Keisse in Ghent can say it’s a career honour. Thank you for your friendship, your patience and your heart this week. We said it in 2014 and it still stands: one day we’ll win this together.”