Britain’s Mark Cavendish says he’s a “realist” who doesn’t expect a “fairytale” end to his cycling career.
The former world champion’s returned to Deceuninck-QuickStep for the 2021 season, the team which helped him to some of his greatest achievements during his 2013-2015 spell.
Cavendish, whose form has been affected by illness and injury in recent years, was in no mood to speak about the chance of breaking Eddy Merckx’s Tour de France stage win record. He’s currently on 30, four behind the great Belgian rider.
"I’m a realist. 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," he said on Wednesday.
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?”
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At 35, there’s speculation this could be the Olympic silver medallist’s final season. Having spent 2020 at Bahrain-McLaren, Cavendish returns to the outfit he left to join the formerly named Team Dimension Data (now Team Qhubeka Assos) for - a move he’s come to regret.
"Ultimately, I was at my happiest when I was here and the opportunity to come back and race for Deceuninck-QuickStep is a dream - if I do one month more or 10 years more,” he said.
There was really only one place I wanted to go. 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."