Tour de France hope remains for Mark Cavendish as Patrick Lefevere says decision has not been made on squad

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team boss says the "best one will go to the Tour" out of Cavendish and Fabio Jakobsen

Mark Cavendish at the 2022 UAE Tour
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish could still be part of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl's Tour de France squad, despite reports that Fabio Jakobsen was planned to take the team's sprinter spot this July.

Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad on Monday after Cavendish won stage two of the UAE Tour, Quick-Step team boss Patrick Lefevere said that the "best one will go to the Tour".

Jakobsen has said that he is part of the shortlist for the Tour de France, and has had an impressive start to the season, winning two stages and the points classification at both the Volta ao Algarve and the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

Cavendish, meanwhile, opened his 2022 account with a stage win at the Tour of Oman before victory in front of a stacked field of sprinters in the UAE on Monday.

It was his first win at WorldTour level, excepting last year's Tour, since 2017, and so the form of Quick-Step's two sprinters has given Lefevere a good problem to have.

"I know that Fabio Jakobsen said at the media day in Calpe at the beginning of January that he is normally going (to the Tour), but I have a long list," Lefevere said after he watched his sprinter win in Abu Dhabi.

“I'm not (French astrologer) Madame Soleil. So much can still happen, look what happened last year… 

“The best one will go to the Tour and then they have to finish it off against all the other sprinters such as Caleb Ewan, [Alexander] Kristoff, [Bryan] Coquard and you name it. I'm especially happy that my two sprinters are on the march. Cavendish is already on the list of the Giro. Then we'll see, huh. Let's start another part of the season this weekend.”

Cavendish has not ridden the Giro d'Italia since 2013, but has won 15 stages at the race, along with his 34 Tour stage wins.

He was not originally in the Quick-Step squad for the Tour last year, but was parachuted in after Sam Bennett's injury problems. The Manxman then won four stages at the world's biggest race, equalling Eddy Merckx's record for Tour stage wins in the process. It means the 36-year old is just one stage away from holding the record outright, which must be attractive to both himself and his team.

Meanwhile, Jakobsen has never raced the Tour, but won three stages at last year's Vuelta a España and his return to winning is an emotive story after his 2020 crash which left him with life-threatening injuries.

The Belgian team have won ten races already so far this season, a sixth of what they won in 2021, but Cavendish's victory in Abu Dhabi was the first WorldTour win of the year.

"The snacks are done, It is about time to start on the starter," Lefevere said.

He will be hoping that his team challenge throughout the upcoming classics season, which begins with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. Jakobsen will be in the squad for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the next day.

Lefevere was pleased with Cavendish's win on Monday, which saw him beat a roster of leading sprinters including Bennett, Jasper Philipsen, Arnaud Démare, Pascal Ackermann and Elia Viviani.

“It was a mighty sprint. Cav's experience and strength surpassed Jasper Philipsen,” the Belgian said. 

“On Sunday it was a tailwind sprint and he was more stressed there. This was much more about fighting and it was also about the power he got from his little legs. He also went at the ideal moment, just around the corner. Everyone thinks it's normal for Cavendish to win, but it's not always that normal."

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