Mark Cavendish allowed himself to dream of a 35th Tour de France win - enough to surpass his current joint record, with Eddy Merckx - after pulling on the British championships jersey in Castle Douglas, on Sunday.
The 37-year-old attacked from the opening kilometres, joining a long-range breakaway on the lumpy 201km course, before winning a three-up sprint against Sam Watson (Groupama-FDJ) and Alex Richardson (Le Col).
Speaking after the podium presentation, Cavendish spoke of the history he could still make in the British stripes: "Can you imagine winning a 35th Tour de France stage in the British champion's jersey. It'd be really beautiful."
"Those photos would be there forever," he added, after taking the second National road title of his career.
At the last update from Quickstep Alpha-Vinyl boss, Patrick Lefevere, it looked like the predictions of early season training camps were set to come to fruition - with Fabio Jakobsen the team's designated sprinter, and Cavendish missing out on the 2022 Tour de France.
However, Lefevere, did leave space for speculation, adding in his Het-Nieuwsblad column “I will continue to speak with two names,” having confirmed: "it is no secret that we are going to sprint in the Tour with Fabio Jakobsen."
After Sunday's race, which took place in attritional conditions, Cavendish acknowledged his good form, but said it was "unlikely" he'd be lining up for the Grand Depart in Copenhagen on Friday.
"It's unlikely I'll go to the Tour de France so I might as well use it today and at least show that the reason I'm not going to the Tour is not because I've got bad form."
However, he said he was still in the dark as to the team's final decision on its Tour de France roster.
"I haven't had a call from team one way or the other," Cavendish stated. "Normally you get a call to say you're going or not going but this time and I haven't had anything, so I'm trying to stay optimistic with that.
"You can see my condition, that I'm good enough to do the Tour. I know if I went, I'd win [a stage]," he added, reminding listeners (and perhaps, management) of his 2021 success, "I feel so much better than last year and you know what happened last year... I won four stages at the Tour de France and the green jersey."
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