Mark Cavendish, currently tied with Eddy Merckx as the record-holder for Tour de France stage wins, is focused on his pursuit of a record-breaking 35th stage victory in this year’s race.
Despite his sentimental journey and recent success in the Giro d’Italia, Cavendish acknowledges that sentimentality will have no place in his approach to the Tour.
Starting his 14th and final Tour as the star rider for Astana Qazaqstan, Cavendish’s resurgence in form has been remarkable. As he embarks on his farewell Tour, emotions run high for Cavendish, who finds it challenging to express the significance of potentially becoming the sole stage win record-holder.
There was a 30-second pause from the cyclist when the question was asked, before he responded: “In all honesty, I don’t know. I’m just trying to win as much as I can. I’m sorry.
“The whole experience of the Tour, you can’t describe it. This race gives me the most incredible emotions. Unfortunately you can’t really analyse it and appreciate it until afterwards.”
But he said that there was “no room for sentimentality”, adding: “It’s the same every year. I know it’s my last one, but it’s still the same, I have a job to do.”
Mark Renshaw, former teammate of Mark Cavendish , will support his bid to win a 35th stage in the Tour de France. Renshaw will serve as a sprint consultant during the race, offering his expertise and guidance, considering the number of flat stages, which may present additional opportunities for Cavendish to secure further victories.
The Australian assisted Cavendish in sprints during several seasons and helped him claim six stage wins in the 2009 Tour alone. But the competition is stronger than ever. Cavendish, who will be riding a custom painted bike for his last Tour, will be racing against a field that contains the most competitive sprinters in the peloton.
Asked about his own form, Cavendish was cautious. “You never really know where you’re at in the race until you start racing,” he said. “The nature of sprinting [of cycling] means that it’s more quantifiable. It makes the physical level higher. I feel that everyone’s closer.”