Mark Cavendish has confirmed that he will hang up his wheels and retire from professional cycling at the end of the 2023 season.
Speaking at a press conference organised by his team, Astana Qazaqstan, during Monday’s second rest day at the Giro d’Italia, Cavendish confirmed that he would retire from the sport at the end of the year and said it was the “perfect time” to announce his decision.
"I’ve absolutely loved racing every kilometre of this race so far, so I feel it’s the perfect time to say it’s my final Giro d’Italia and 2023 will be my final season as a professional cyclist," he said.
Cavendish celebrated his 38th birthday on Sunday and there was much speculation that an announcement on his future was imminent. His decision to retire brings an end to an illustrious 17 year career, which has seen him become one of the greatest sprinters of all time.
One of his final targets as a professional will be a record breaking 35th Tour de France stage win. Cavendish will make his 14th and final appearance at the French Grand Tour this July with Astana Qazaqstan. He currently shares the all-time record for stage victories with Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx.
Surrounded by his children and wife, Peta, Cavendish explained that he does not yet know which race will be his final outing as a professional, but vowed to make the most of his final moments within cycling.
“Cycling’s been my life for over 25 years. I’ve lived an absolute dream,” Cavendish said. “The bike has given me the opportunity to see the world and meet incredible people, a lot of whom I’m proud to call friends. I love the sport more than you can even imagine and I can’t see myself going too far from it, that’s for sure.”
"When you understand it’s not forever, it’s easier to enjoy every feeling this sport has to offer."
"Today is my son Casper’s fifth birthday, fortunately it’s a rest day and I can spend his birthday with him. I think it’s important now that I can be there for every birthday for my wife Peta and all our children," he added.
"It’s important I can see all their school concerts and support them in their sporting competitions and it’s important I can run around with them without fear of injury or getting sick."
After turning professional in 2007, Cavendish has recorded 161 career victories, including at all three Grand Tours as well as the 2011 World Championships in Copenhagen and Milan-San Remo in 2009. He won the points classification at all three Grand Tours, and has also previously worn the yellow jersey of the race leader at the Tour de France.
As well as his success on the road, Cavendish has also had great results on the track, and has three Madison world titles as well as a silver medal in the Omnium from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on his palmarès.
In 2020, Cavendish’s career appeared to be nearing its conclusion. However, he inked a last minute deal during the winter to return to Patrick Lefevere’s Quick-Step team. He would enjoy a celebrated return to form with the Belgian squad, winning four stages of the 2021 Tour in which he also won the green jersey for a second time.
After being left out of their Tour lineup one year later, Cavendish left Quick-Step at the end of 2022. He was widely reported to be joining the B&B Hotels team prior to their demise, before he eventually signed with Astana Qazaqstan.
Cavendish is yet to win for his new team, but has gone close at this year’s Giro, finishing fourth on stage five behind Kaden Groves and third on stage 11 in Tortona. He also went close to victory for Astana in the spring at Scheldeprijs where he finished third behind Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen. The Manxman will have one final opportunity to grab a 17th Giro stage win on stage 17 to Caorle on Wednesday.
Despite a lot of significance being placed on him attempting to break the record he holds with Merckx this summer, Cavendish insisted a 35th Tour stage win was not his sole priority before he officially retires.
"If I was on 45 wins on the Tour de France, I’d still be going to the Tour de France to win," he said. "If I was on 18, I’d be looking for 19."
Just after he signed for Astana, and his place in the 2023 peloton was confirmed we took a pictorial look back at Cavendish's career.
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