“OK, Mark is old now, he’s 39. But the experience he has is a massive advantage" - Cavendish's coach firmly believes in Tour de France chances

As is often the case this time of the year, one of the big stories going into the 2024 Tour de France is Mark Cavendish. Heading into the final Tour of his legendary career, the Manx Missile has one final shot at taking a historic 35th stage win.

Initially of course, the 2023 Tour de France was supposed to be Cavendish's swansong. The Astana Qazaqstan Team sprinter came close to that elusive 35th win on stage 7, finishing 2nd to Jasper Philipsen thanks in part to a gearing issue in the final few hundred metres and was growing in confidence before leaving the race in the back of an ambulance just a day later having broken his collarbone. Due to this, 'Cav' is back for one last chance.

“If the next few weeks go as planned, everything is possible at the Tour de France,” Cavendish’s trainer Vasilis Anastopoulos says confidently and optimistically, in conversation with Velo. “Things didn’t go well for Mark for quite a while. But we’re past that. The confidence is there for Mark, and the whole team.”

“I won’t give any chances or predictions. I can’t say if a stage win is 60 or 70 percent or whatever,” Anastopoulos continues. “But I do know he’s back on track now and that he and the whole team is behind this Tour de France objective. If Mark arrives at the Tour healthy and in the condition we expect per the plan, everything is possible. Why not?”

As touched upon by Anastopoulos, Cavendish didn't have the best of luck this spring as illness ruined his early season. Bouncing back with a stage win at the recent Tour de Hongrie however, Cavendish is currently working on his climbing legs at the Tour de Suisse. “You need to use all your experience for a race as hard as the Tour de France. It’s not only about power and about speed,” the coach says. “You need to make decisions in the right moments, to understand how to use energy during the stages, how not to be stressed by the whole race. Some of those learnings only come with time."

And it is the fact that Cavendish has been there and done it time after time will stand the Brit in good stead this summer Anastopoulos believes. “OK, Mark is old now, he’s 39. But the experience he has, and that [leadout man] Michael Morkov has, is second to no one. And that’s a huge advantage over these other guys,” Anastopoulos concludes. “None of the other Tour de France sprinters can match that.”

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