Mark Cavendish says he is not expecting to win multiple Tour de France stages this year after rejoining Belgian super team Deceuninck-Quick Step, describing himself as a “realist” rather than one living in a “fairytale land”.
However, the 30-time Tour de France stage winner — who rode for the Belgian team from 2013 until 2015, a period he describes as the happiest of his career — said he felt he was still a top rider and could "add something” to the team.
Speaking at a virtual pre-season team presentation in Altea on the Costa Blanca, Cavendish said he was not yet sure of his race schedule, but was realistic regarding his role given the team’s star-studded line-up, which includes Irish sprinter Sam Bennett plus Colombian Álvaro Hodeg and Fabio Jakobsen.
“I’m a realist,” he said. “I’m not looking to hang on to something or try to finish my career as I want to in a fairytale way. I just know I’m still good.
"If I thought I wanted to go and win six stages at the Tour de France, I’m in fairytale land and it makes it even less likely if you come to the strongest team in the world who have dominated.
"But even if I’m not winning, I think I can still add something to this team. Last time I added to them and they added something to me. So why not join them if it’s my last year or if I’ve got 10 more years in me?
"Ultimately, I was at my happiest when I was here and the opportunity to come back and race for Deceuninck-Quick Step is a dream — if I do one month more or 10 years more.”
Cavendish added that he was just happy still to be riding professionally, with the world in such an uncertain state.
"Like many riders, I just like to race. Before that, I hope the world gets back to some kind of normality and that people stay safe. I know the vaccine is coming now and being distributed, so we can get back to normal," he said. "I feel the same as the Belgian fans: I live and breathe it [cycling], so I just feel at home at Deceuninck-Quick Step.
"The best part of my career was at this team. I tried something else but in hindsight, I wish I’d stayed here my whole career. I have an incredible rapport with the team and staff and sponsors, especially with Specialized. I helped develop the Venge. It was a bike made for me and I proved it was the best bike for me to win on.
"Cycling has been my life for as long as I can remember and always will be. We don’t know how long that is on the bike or off the bike but for now I just want to keep enjoying racing and thankfully in a Deceuninck jersey this year."