Mark Cavendish confirms retirement – 'I've lived an absolute dream'
Mark Cavendish has announced that 2023 will be his final season as a professional rider.
Speaking at a press conference in Coccaglio during Monday’s rest day at the Giro d’Italia, Cavendish confirmed that he would retire at the end of the current campaign
"I’ve absolutely loved racing every kilometre of this race so far, so I feel it’s the perfect time to say it’s my final Giro d’Italia and 2023 will be my final season as a professional cyclist," Cavendish said.
The announcement comes a day after Cavendish marked his 38th birthday, and it signals the final chapter of a career that saw him become the most dominant sprinter in the sport.
Cavendish will make his 14th and final Tour de France appearance with Astana Qazaqstan in July, where he will seek to break the all-time record for stage victories that he currently shares with Eddy Merckx.
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Cavendish sat down in front of the media on Monday alongside his wife, Peta, and his children.
"Cycling’s been my life for over 25 years. I’ve lived an absolute dream," he said.
"The bike has given me the opportunity to see the world and meet incredible people, a lot of whom I’m proud to call friends.
“I love the sport more than you can even imagine and I can’t see myself going too far from it, that’s for sure."
Cavendish said he does not yet know which race will be the final bow of his illustrious career but vowed to cherish his final moments as a pro.
"When you understand it’s not forever, it’s easier to enjoy every feeling this sport has to offer," he added.
"Today is my son Casper’s fifth birthday, fortunately it’s a rest day and I can spend his birthday with him. I think it’s important now that I can be there for every birthday for my wife Peta and all our children.
"It’s important I can see all their school concerts and support them in their sporting competitions and it’s important I can run around with them without fear of injury or getting sick."
A professional since 2007, Cavendish has notched up 161 career victories, including the 2011 World Championships in Copenhagen and the 2009 Milan-San Remo. He has won stages and the points classification at all three Grand Tours, and also held the leader’s jersey at each race.
He also enjoyed success on the track, including three Madison world titles and a silver medal in the Omnium at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The Manxman’s career was defined, however, by his relationship with the Tour de France. He made a brief debut in the race when it started in London in 2007 and he returned a year later to open his account, notching up four stage victories. 30 more Tour stage wins would follow across spells at Highroad, Team Sky, QuickStep and Dimension Data.
In 2020, after several years blighted by illness, Cavendish’s career looked to be nearing its end, but he struck a late deal that winter to re-join QuickStep. He would enjoy a renaissance at Patrick Lefevere’s team, winning four stages of the 2021 Tour and carrying the green jersey to Paris for the second time.
Cavendish left QuickStep at the end of 2022 after being left out of their Tour line-up. He was initially poised to join B&B Hotels prior to the collapse of the team before he eventually signed with Alexandre Vinokourov’s Astana-Qazaqstan.
Cavendish has yet to claim a victory with the Kazakhstani team, though he went close with fourth in Salerno and third in Tortona at the Giro. The last chance for the sprinters in Italy comes in Caorle on Wednesday, though above all, Cavendish will hope for the grandest of farewells in July at the Tour, even if he insisted the record is not his priority.
"If I was on 45 wins on the Tour de France, I’d still be going to the Tour de France to win," he said. "If I was on 18, I’d be looking for 19."