A hugely emotional Mark Cavendish thanked Patrick Lefevere, team principal at Deceuninck-Quick Step, for believing in him when others did not afterin over three years on Monday. The British rider, 35, of Turkey from a bunch sprint to assume the race’s overall lead.
Cavendish had suffered a series of setbacks since his last big year in 2016 when he won the, four stages of the Tour de France, a day in the leader’s yellow jersey, Olympic omnium silver, and finished second at the road world championships. He lost the best part of two seasons to the Epstein-Barr virus, broke his shoulder after in 2017, and also suffered fromdepression, something he revealed in an interview with Telegraph Sport last year.
It looked last autumn as if he might have run out of road. In a tearful interview after Ghent-Wevelgem, Cavendish admitted he did not know whether he would race again, with his contract at Bahrain-McLaren ending and coronaviruswith the season. However, the 30-time winner agreed on a contract with his old Belgian team, Deceuninck-Quick Step, where he spent three successful seasons between 2013 and 2015.
And he has been getting closer and closer to his first last week. On Monday, he timed his run to perfection, surging from the fifth wheel to pass André Greipel ( ) and Casper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) on the line.in 2018. The 35-year-old finished on the podium at Scheldeprijs
Afterward, Cavendish paid tribute to Lefevere. “Some people didn’t think I could get back to winning, but he did, and for that, I am grateful,” he said. “Just to get back to winning after what I’ve been through in theis truly incredible. To win again was emotional, and to hug all my teammates after the finish was amazing.”
Analysis: Next stop Tour de France for Cavendish?
By Tom Cary
in over three years was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm throughout cycling, a sport that reveres its great champions. The Manx rider, second only to and a former world road champion is one of the greatest sprinters in history, and no one wanted to see his career end before he got back to winning ways.
Of course, there will be questions now as to what Cavendish 2.0 might be capable of. Could he grow in confidence and become a force in cycling again? Could he — whisper it — add to his 30? It is far too soon to speculate about such matters. The Tour of Turkey is one thing, the Tour de France another.
Cavendish mustagainst the best sprinters in the world before Deceuninck-Quick Step even contemplates taking him. They already have the , Ir, eland’s Sam Bennett, on their roster (it will be interesting to see whether Deceuninck-Quick Step chooses to keep them apart in the coming weeks). Plus, Cavendish will be 36 . Time is very much against him.
But how he won on Monday was encouraging, showing great timing and a good jump as heGreipel to take Philipsen’s wheel before powering into the lead right on the line. If he never another race, Cavendish can be proud that he fought back from so much adversity to return to the winners’ enclosure. Whatever happens from here, he has already won his biggest battle.