Rocketman: Mark Cavendish and the greatest comeback in sports history
Mark Cavendish is just too modest. It was only days after his remarkable performance at the 2021 Tour de France, where the sprinter reclaimed the green jersey he first wore in 2011 and tied the legend’s total of 34 TDF stage victories. Belgian Eddy Merckx, but the thrill of victory is already present. behind him. Speaking from his home in Essex, Cavendish says he is now fed up with the fuss, statistics and numbers and endless discussions about the records.
We will therefore have to magnify ourselves the feat of the little guy: the triumphs of Cavendish in four key stages of the Tour de France, returning to The large loop after a two-year hiatus, massive decline in fitness, profound health issues, clinical depression and, in his darkest days, a hint of actual retirement, is one of the biggest sports comebacks in history . Even Merckx himself described Cav’s 2021 tour as “a miracle.”
How did the 36-year-old “Manx Missile” do? Pure determination, desire, hard work and a childish love for bike racing that seems to get more and more passionate as he gets older …
GQ: Eddy Merckx isn’t known to be particularly generous with compliments, so how does it feel to hear him describe your victory as a âmiracleâ?
Marc Cavendish: Pleasant. Quite special. I think he’s probably just as tired of all the questions on the record as I am. The truth is, there really is no way to compare us as runners. [Merckx won both mountain and sprint stages; Cavendish is a sprint specialist], so it’s literally a matter of sharing a number. Now our names both have that number 34 attached to them. What I love is that Eddy knows how hard it is to ride a bike, so for him to say that about my return is pretty special.
There have been very few returns in the sport that match yours. Billie Jean King at Wimbledon in 1982, maybe? Denmark vs Germany in Euros 1992 or Niki lauda in Monza in 1976? Rocky balboa against Apollo Creed in 1979, maybe?
For me, it’s not really about comparing my accomplishments to those of others. I guess it was more rewarding for me because of all the work I had done and all the hard times I had gone through. It wasn’t that long ago that I was really in the wrong place to come back. I just wasn’t winning. There were all kinds of circumstances [contributing to lack of form]. Sometimes I couldn’t compete because of overwork, sometimes it was because of negligence. I had Epstein-Barr virus and in 2018 I was diagnosed with clinical depression.