Mark Cavendish retires: Former world champion and Olympic medallist to end cycling career at end of 2023

Mark Cavendish retires: Former world champion and Olympic medallist to end cycling career at end of 2023

Cavendish, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Sunday, made the announcement at a press conference on the rest day of the Giro d'Italia.

He said: "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.

"[On Sunday] I celebrated my 38th birthday. Like many others I've been struggling with sickness during the race as well as the effects of some unfortunate crashes. To get me through, I can't thank this group of friends enough.

"Cycling has been my life for over 25 years. I have lived an absolute dream and the bike has given me the opportunity to see the world and meet some incredible people.

"It's taught me so much about life - dedication, loyalty, companionship, teamwork, sacrifice, humility and perseverance - all things that now, as a father, I can show my children."

Cavendish is regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all-time and has a joint-record 34 stage wins at the Tour de France, a feat he shares with Eddy Merckx.

He became world champion on the road in 2011 and claimed silver at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on the track.

British Cycling performance director Stephen Park congratulated Cavendish on behalf of the company for his "truly outstanding career".

"Cav is without doubt the sport's greatest sprinter and will be remembered by fans across the world for his 53 grand tour stage wins, and I'm sure that we will all be cheering him on as he looks to add to that total in his final months of racing," said Park.

"From a Great Britain Cycling Team perspective, we have seen him win rainbow jerseys on both the road and the track, a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games, and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year title in 2011.

"What most stands out in Cav as a sportsperson is the overwhelming sense of pride he showed each time he pulled on both the Great Britain Cycling Team and British national champion's jerseys - a quality we want to instil in every single member of our team.

"Professional and passionate, Cav has been a real asset to our team over the years and will be remembered as both a peerless rider and a fantastic teammate with time for everyone. We wish him the very best of luck both for the rest of his final season in the peloton and in the next stage of his career."

Cavendish came close to retirement in 2020 as he struggled with Epstein-Barr virus, injuries and illness in the three years prior.

However, Cavendish re-joined Deceuninck-Quick-Step in 2021 and won four stages at the Tour de France to equal Merckx's record.

On the final stage, he was expected to break the record but finished third behind Wout van Aert and Jasper Philipsen.

He was not selected for last year's Tour de France and joined Astana Qazaqstan over the winter as he embarks on the final six months of his career.

Cavendish has won 161 stages since turning professional in 2005, including 53 victories at Grand Tours - the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

He's one of the most successful riders in cycling history but what are his best moments?

Cavendish made his road breakthrough in 2007, two years after he turned professional, and soon became the rider to beat on flat stages.

He won his first Tour de France stage in 2008 with Team High Road and 12 months later the 'Manx Missile' tasted victory six times at the Tour.

His dominant victory in the Champs-Elysees that year put him on 10 Tour wins already and Cavendish was arguably at the peak of his career.

The World Championships road course rarely suits the sprinters but the 2011 route in Copenhagen was made for the fast men.

Cavendish went into the event having won another five Tour stages, plus the Green Jersey for the first time, so had a target on his back.

It was a manic finish and Cavendish had to ride the wheels of his rivals, including Matthew Gos and Andre Greipel, before emerging from the pack on the right hand side in the final 100m to win.

In doing so, he became Britain's first world champion on the road since Thomas Simpson in 1965.

2012 was a disappointing year for Cavendish because he was not able to contend for a medal at the Olympics as other countries forced Team GB to bring back the breakaway, which they were not able to do.

He was also with a new squad - Team Sky - and did not have the same success compared to previous seasons as the team's first goal was to protect Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France.

On Stage 18, Cavendish had a stunning win when he chased down the breakaway in the final 400m after help from Team Sky.

Following Wiggins' Stage 19 time trial victory, the yellow jersey was sealed and on the final stage at the Champs-Elysees, Team Sky went all-in for Cavendish.

The iconic picture of Wiggins in yellow helping to lead out Cavendish in the final 1km is etched in many cycling fans' memory and, as expected, Cav stormed to victory to make it four Champs-Elysees wins in four years.

Cavendish had a disappointing record at the Olympics going into 2016, having finished ninth in the men's madison in Beijing 2008 with team-mate Wiggins and having the disappointment of London 2012.

He split his 2016 season by riding on the road and track, with one eye on competing in the velodrome at the Olympics in Rio.

Cavendish rode in the omnium for Team GB and had to settle for silver behind Italian Elia Viviani. He was "super happy" with the result though as he banished his Olympic nightmares.

In the same year, Cavendish nearly became world champion for a second time on the road, narrowly losing out to Peter Sagan in a sprint.

It looked like Cavendish was going to have little success in the final part of his career as he went through a number of crashes, injuries and illnesses between 2017 and 2020.

The Briton revealed he had been diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus in 2017 and struggled to climb stairs or play with his children. At the same time, other sprinters had now come to the fore.

In 2021, he returned to Deceuninck-Quick-Step and was not going to be selected for the Tour de France. But, the team's lead sprinter, Sam Bennett suffered a knee injury so Cavendish was called up.

To everyone's surprise, Cavendish won Stage 4 at the Tour, his first victory at cycling's most famous race for five years.

He went on to win three more stages and equalled Merckx's record of 34 stage victories at the Tour to underline his status as one of the greatest riders the sport has seen.

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