Could Mark Cavendish return to the Tour de France?

Could Mark Cavendish return to the Tour de France?

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Fans are buzzing after a hat trick of Mark Cavendish’s dazzling stage wins at the Tour of Turkey.

After three years in the wilderness of sprinters, the former world champion shone with joy as he stepped onto the winner’s podium for the first time since 2018.

That sense of victory reignites the debate over Cavendish and his immediate future: Should the 35-year-old see a place on the Decenuninck-Quick-Step Tour de France roster this summer?

There is no doubt that Cavendish is the most successful Tour rider in the field today, with 30 career stage wins. It’s only four less than the all-time brand owned by Eddy Merckx.

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For a few years in his prime, it seemed almost certain that Cavendish would match and even surpass the great Merckx. Yet age, injuries, and politics put roadblocks in Cavendish’s path to history.

Cavendish has participated in 12 editions of the Tour during his career. However, his last start was in 2018, and he has not arrived in Paris since 2015. His last stage victory on the Tour dates back to 2016.

Now that he’s back to his way of winning, many are wondering – why not let Cavendish have one last chance in history?

Is a return from tour realistic? Or should the sport open its arms to one of its all-time great sprinters, just for the good old days? VeloNews’ the editors are competing on the question:

Sadhbh O’Shea – Oui

Mark Cavendish wins stage 7 of the Tour de France 2015

‘She’s from the Isle of Man, of course, she will say yes, I hear you say. It’s true, but listen to me.

Watching the first stages of the Tour of Turkey gave the impression of being pushed back in time. Mark Cavendish versus André Greipel. How very 2012.

After looking up and down at the end of last season, it’s good to see Cavendish come back in a winning way. His second victory in as many days had all the hallmarks of the Manx missile of old and had the confidence he had lacked for some time.

Before his success in Turkey, Cavendish already looked like a new driver with good performances at Grote Prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré, Coppi e Bartali and Scheldeprijs.

I understand that the Tour of Turkey field is missing most of the world’s top sprinters and the three wins don’t mean Cavendish is going to lead the rest of the season. However, Laxey’s man is showing all the signs of a late-career resurgence.

Also read: Cavendish wins for the first time since 2018

Given his history, Cavendish did enough to be considered for a place in the Deceuninck-Quick-Step Tour de France roster.

Cavendish has been struck off several times during his career, but he has rebounded more often. Thinking back to the 2016 Tour, he had won just three times before the race and was deemed to be there purely for the publicity factor. He won four stages and took a huge leap forward to close the gap for the all-time record.

I believe a Cavendish with that confidence can do some good things at the Tour de France this year. He is only four more stages away from equaling Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 and what a great story it would be for Deceuninck-Quick-Step if the team could help him get closer and closer.

I don’t think Cavendish can do four races in one again, but there is a real opportunity for the team to help him close the gap.

Of course, there’s the complication of Sam Bennett already set to lead the sprint load for the team after winning the green jersey last year. I’m sure the team will be able to fix the problem, but they’ll have to plan better than they did at Scheldeprijs, otherwise Cavendish and Bennett will finish second and third more often than first.

Andrew Hood – Maybe

Would Cavendish even want to return to the Tour? Crédit photo: Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Like many, I was surprised and very happy to see Cavendish win again.

As many have pointed out, the class is permanent. What is not is the guarantee of a place in the Tour de France based on prize list alone.

Could Cavendish end up on Quick-Step “Tour 8” in July? Perhaps.

Lots of things should be happening by June 26th.

Firstly, Cavendish should start winning a lot and winning against the best sprinters in the peloton. It’s one thing to win the Tour of Turkey against an aging André Greipel and a field full of second-tier teams, it’s another thing to compete against Caleb Ewan or Peter Sagan.

Second, Cavendish would need to prove he can go the distance in the Tour. He hasn’t started a Tour since 2018, and he hasn’t arrived in Paris since 2015. In fact, he hasn’t even started a grand tour since the 2018 edition. To have any hope of starting the Tour, he would have to start and finish the Giro d’Italia and win several times along the way.

Could he run the Giro? Perhaps. Cavendish said after winning on Tuesday he had no idea what his next race might be like. At the moment he is not on any long Giro list, and the team hope to support Remco Evenepoel in his grand touring debut.

Also read: What Remco’s mega-contract means for Quick-Step

And if we’re perfectly honest, something should happen that sidelines Sam Bennett. The Irishman had a spectacular Tour last year, securing two victories, including on the Champs-Élysées, and finishing Sagan’s race in the green jersey. Bennett is clearly at the center of the team’s sprinting ambitions, and the only way Cavendish could stand a chance of making it to the Tour would be if Bennett isn’t.

So if Cavendish starts winning a lot, starts and ends the Giro with a few wins in Italy, and if Bennett is somehow prevented from racing, maybe – just may be – Cavendish could end up in the Tour de France.

However, we have the feeling that Cavendish has no ambition or expectation to return to the Tour de France.

But maybe, just maybe, the door could open.

It would definitely be fun to watch.

Jim Cotton – Non

Sorry Cav, no tour this year. Photo credit: Luc Claessen / Getty Images

Some of my best memories watching bike races have come from watching Cavendish win the Tour de France, and while I would love to see him again this summer, there’s no way that will happen.

Three wins in the Tour of Turkey is a big achievement for any rider, and the 35-year-old showed some of his old kick and cunning as he made the double this week. However, look at the ground Cavendish had to beat. His two best rivals this week are Jasper Philipsen and equally veteran André Greipel. Philipsen is fine up there as one of the B-list sprinters in the peloton right now, but he’s neither Caleb Ewan nor Pascal Ackermann, let’s face it.

However, the biggest obstacles for Cavendish from his 13th Tour start this summer are the rivals within his own squad and the increasing intensity of Grand Tour racing.

Also read: Sam Bennett still chasing a monument victory

Sam Bennett is not only Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s best sprinter, but he could also be the fastest finisher in the field right now, and his relationship with point guard Michael Mørkøv has looked more murderous than ever this winter. The Irishman is light years away in the pecking order from sprinting to Quick-Step. And if Bennett is injured or ill in June, Deceuninck-Quick-Step has the likes of Davide Ballerini or Álvaro Hodeg to appeal.

It has been three years since Cavendish ran the Tour, which was also the last grand tour he started. Each season the big laps got more aggressive from the start, and the simple sprint stages are on the way out. And as the three-week races developed over the years, Cavendish slowly lost his condition.

Could Cavendish last three weeks in a modern Tour de France? Not this year.

If Cav is ever to return to the Tour, he’ll need more race pace in his legs, more wins under his belt and possibly a Giro or Vuelta appearance to bring him back into the groove of the big guy. tower.

Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, Wout van Aert and Peter Sagan battle for the line on stage 11 of the Tour de France 2020
Could Cavendish beat these guys? Photo: James Startt

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