Mark Cavendish: 'It won't be a failure if I don't win a Tour de France stage'

Manx sprinter hoping luck will see him take a stage win

Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

With the start of the Tour de France less than 24 hours away, Mark Cavendish says that he is being realistic about his ambitions for the race having barely raced over the last few months following a bout of glandular fever.

The British sprinter was diagnosed with the illness in April, and only returned to action at the Tour de Slovénie in mid-June, three months after his last race.

With this disrupted preparation, Cavendish said that he cannot be bullish and say that he will win multiple stages as he has done in previous years.

"This year I’ll just be happy win a stage," Cavendish said on the eve of the Grand Départ. "But I don’t think it would be a failure if I don’t win a stage.

"I know it apparently signals the end of my career if I only win three sometime. I’m realistic about what I can do this year."

Watch: Tour de France preview 2017 - the sprinters

With the exception of 2014 where he crashed out on stage one, the 32-year-old has won a stage in every Tour de France since 2008, and is now just four wins short of matching Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage wins.

However the Manxman has insisted that the record will have to wait until at least 2018, and that he might have to rely on luck to pick up a stage win this year.

"I'm still not in ideal condition but the good thing about being a sprinter is sometimes you can win on luck, take the right wheel, get the right route, there’s a chance you can win.

"It’s worth coming here with that chance as a sprinter, because there are a lot of sprint days in this year's route."

One of a number of other riders who will be eyeing up the 11 possible sprint stages is this year's race is Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), who Cavendish thinks is under increased pressure with the Tour starting in Germany.

"For sure Marcel Kittel is the man to watch in the sprints. He's got the strongest team and we see that who usually wins has the strongest team there.

"So I think the pressure is on him to deliver, especially with the start here in Germany. And he looks in good form for that."

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.