Mark Cavendish

Nationality: British

Date of birth: May 21, 1985

Height: 175cm

Weight: 69kg

Team: Astana Qazaqstan

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish equals Eddy Merckx's record 34 Tour de France stage wins in 2021. (Image credit: Astana-Qazaqstan)

Mark Cavendish is firmly established as one of the greatest British cyclists of all time, with more than 160 professional wins to his name: 53 stage wins across all three Grand Tours with points classification jerseys at each, victories at Scheldeprijs, Milan-San Remo and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, as well as a world and a national road race championship to go with stages at prestigious races like Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Suisse.

Put simply, Cavendish is one of the greatest road sprinters of his generation.

Mark Cavendish: career to date

Having graduated through British Cycling's Olympic Academy track programme under the close watch of coach Rod Ellingworth, Cavendish had his breakthrough on the road in 2008. He won Scheldeprijs in April, two stages at the Giro d'Italia in May and recovered in time to take four stages of that July's Tour de France, abandoning after stage 14 to focus on the Madison race at the Beijing Olmypics (he and Wiggins, reigning world champions, could only finish ninth).

Cav continued to dominate in 2009, taking four stages (including a TTT) at the Giro and six at the Tour as well as a famous win in the 100th edition of Milan San-Remo (only the second Brit to win after Tom Simpson in 1964), and in 2010, winning five stages at the Tour and two at the Vuelta en route to his first Grand Tour point classification jersey.

In 2011, he was named as the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, becoming only the third cyclist to win the award after the late Tommy Simpson in 1965 and Sir Chris Hoy in 2008. Although he had only won 12 races they included two stages of the Giro, five Tour de France stages and the green jersey, and the road race world championship title.

The following year he rode for Team Sky, but was released from his contract after the team failed to give him their full support in Grand Tours. He nonetheless managed to win Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and three stages apiece at the Giro and Tour.

Cav returned to winning ways at Omega-Pharma-Quick Step in 2013, winning stages at the Tour of Qatar and Tour de San Luis in the early season. He took five stages and the points classification at the Giro d'Italia (wearing pink for a day after winning stage one) and won his first national road race title, but just the two stages at the Tour (where Marcel Kittel won four, including on the Champs Elysees) and the Manxman didn't win a single Grand Tour stage in 2014, crashing and injuring his shoulder on the very first stage of the Tour, settling instead for stages at the Volta ao Algarve and Tirreno-Adriatico among others.

His 2015 season was a story of two halves. He began in typically authoritative style, first taking overall victory in the Dubai Tour and following up with victory in the one-day Classic Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

But Cavendish's name is synonymous with the Tour de France and 2015's race was a disappointment by his exceptionally high standards. One stage win is a relatively poor haul for the Manx Missile, but it did lift him to 26 Tour stage victories at Le Grand Boucle.

Despite a legacy of success with the Belgian team, Cavendish left Etixx-Quick Step in the off-season to join Dimension Data, reuniting with former teammates Edvald Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel and his leadout man of choice Mark Renshaw.

He didn't leave his new team waiting long for his first win, taking stage one of the 2016 Tour of Qatar to get off the mark for the African outfit. Cav then wore the maillot jaune at the Tour in July for the first time in his career and claimed four stage victories, taking his Grand Tour stage win total to 30 and putting him second to Eddy Merckx (with 34).

Next, Cavendish filled in another blank on his CV by claiming the silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games omnium on the track.

An attempt to take his second road race world title fell tantalisingly short, as he finished second to Peter Sagan. That was not it for Cavendish, though, as he won the Ghent Six Day in November with partner Bradley Wiggins, becoming the first British pairing to do so.

The following year, 2017, was a difficult one. An attack of Glandular Fever meant that he didn’t race between Milan San Remo in March and Tour de Slovénie in June and the illness has followed him for some time.

At the British National Road Race on June 25, he left the win to Dimension Data team mate, Steve Cummings.

The British sprinter was unsure if he would race the Tour de France but was eventually selected for the Team Dimension Data squad.

However a broken shoulder blade as a result of a a crash during the final metres of stage four ended his race early. The race jury ruled that the crash was caused by Peter Sagan, who was disqualified from the race. 

The 2018 season started well with a win at stage three of the Dubai Tour - but then it quickly went downhill.

The Manxman abandoned the Abu Dhabi Tour after a crash in the neutralised zone, caused by an official car. He was eliminated from Tirreno-Adriatico following a crash in the opening time trial - resulting in a broken rib. Then, when riding Milan-San Remo - still on the mend and mostly to support his Dimension Data team mates, he crashed again - sustaining another broken rib and damage to his ankle.

Following the Milan-San Remo crash, team doctor Dr Jarrad van Zuydam commented that Cav was "okay" and had "even managed to preserve his sense of humour."

Cav started the 2018 Tour de France, but did not achieve a win before being eliminated alongside Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) - neither made the time cut on the mountainous day.

He returned to racing at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, following 6 months of being off the bike due to Epstein-Barr virus. This, alongside strained relations with Douglas Adams (owner of Dimension Data), meant that Cav missed the Tour for the first time in a decade. After several poor results, many worried that it would be the final season for the sprinter. However, in October it was announced he had signed with Bahrain-McLaren, joining forces with Rod Ellingworth.

The Manxman's single season at Bahrain-McLaren proved one to forget, as he struggled for form. After Gent-Wevelgem in 2020, Cavendish broke down in tears, saying: "That's perhaps the last race of my career." 

Little did he know, a glorious renaissance was just around the corner. 

In 2021, Cavendish re-signed for Quick Step, then named Deceuninck-Quick Step, and quickly got back to winning ways, taking four stages in April's Presidential Tour of Turkey. At the age of 36, he was selected for the 2021 Tour de France where he put in one of the finest race performances of his career.  

On stage four, Cavendish sprinted to a stunning comeback victory in Fougères, before going on to win three more stages to earn himself a second green jersey. His four victories in 2021 brought his total Tour de France stage tally to 34, level with Eddy Merckx's record

Although he wasn't chosen to return to the Tour de France the following year, 2022 saw Cavendish claim his second British road title, winning from the breakaway in Castle Douglas, Scotland. 

In January 2023, Cavendish signed for Astana Qazaqstan, his sixth team at the sport's highest level.

Major results: Tour de France 2016 | Ghent Six Day 2016 | Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2015 | National championships 2013 | Tour de France 2011 | World title 2011 | Milan-San Remo 2009 | Tour de France 2008 | Scheldeprijs 2007