Astana Qazaqstan enters Tour de France with goal of writing history with Mark Cavendish

It's not much, but Astana Qazaqstan bosses are throwing the best they've got towards the 2024 Tour de France.

Regardless of how it turns out, the Kazakh team will write on big story with their British sprinter Mark Cavendish. The Manxman's retirement from last year's Tour de France in tears after having crashed during the eighth stage was an emotional moment for every cycling fan, just like for the rider himself.

Currently 39 years old Cavendish was planning to hang up his bike after the season, but the 2023 Tour disappointment changed things. The lasting trust of team boss Alexandr Vinokurov convinced one of the best sprinters of cycling history to stick around for one more year. One more chance to shoot to the stars and grab the much-desired 35th Tour de France stage victory. There's hardly anyone who wouldn't wish for that to happen at this point.

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For sprints, Cavendish will count on his good friend Michael Mørkøv to set him up in the best possible way. The 39-year-old Mørkøv, widely regarded as best leadout-man in the peloton just few years ago, is also considering hanging up his bike after the season just like Cav. What better way to wrap up a career would there be for the two, then by winning a Tour de France stage?

It will be up to Yevgeniy Fedorov, Michele Gazzoli, Davide Ballerini and Cees Bol to set up the Astana's 'dream train'. Whether the final position before Cavendish will be occupied by Bol or Mørkøv is yet to be seen though as the team experimented with the exact composition a bit in last months.

But it won't be all about the sprints in Astana. Sure, the main narrative will follow the team in the flat stages, however there ambitions in the mountains as well.

Alexey Lutsenko had turbulent months leading up to the Tour. First there was a lot of hope after his dominant showing at Giro del Abruzzo, but later a streak of illnesses saw the 31-year-old Kazakh abandon Tour de Romandie as well as Giro d'Italia from a solid GC position after a week of racing. His recent performances at Tour de Suisse didn't seem very optimistic, but you never know what's up in store for 7th man of the 2021 Tour de France.

Last on the selection is Colombian climber Harold Tejada might prove to be a safer bet for GC than Lutsenko, but also Tejada didn't have an ideal run-up to Grande Boucle as we saw the 27-year-old mix good performances with lesser days in past months. A stage could be a realistic goal for the climbers duo in upcoming three weeks.

Astana Qazaqstan lineup for Tour de France 2024:

Mark Cavendish
Michael Mørkøv
Alexey Lutsenko
Yevgeniy Fedorov
Cees Bol
Harold Tejada
Davide Ballerini
Michele Gazzoli

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