Mark Cavendish crashed out of the Tour de France but has set his sights on one more (Thibault Camus/AP)
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Mark Cavendish will postpone his retirement plans to race on in 2024 and target a record-breaking 35th Tour de France stage win.
The 38-year-old had announced during the Giro d’Italia in May that he intended to end his glittering career this winter, and went into this summer’s Tour seeking the stage win that would move him clear of Eddy Merckx after he equalled the Belgian on 34 stage wins in 2021.
But a day after coming just a few metres short of victory in Bordeaux, hampered by a mechanical issue in the finale, Cavendish crashed on stage eight and suffered a broken collarbone, ending his race.
Speculation that he might race on has swirled ever since, fuelled by his Astana-Qazaqstan team boss Alexander Vinokourov saying he was eager to retain the Manxman’s services for another season.
On Wednesday the team issued a social media post showing video clips of Cavendish at the Tour and saying “It’s not over yet”.
The team will publish more details regarding Cavendish’s plans later on Wednesday.
Cavendish has not raced since his crash at the Tour as he recovered from surgery to repair his collarbone, but is expected to line up at the Tour of Turkey which starts on October 8.
Cavendish joined the Astana team in 2023 after a planned move to B&B Hotels collapsed, and took victory on the final stage of the Giro d’Italia in May, days after announcing his retirement plans.
Although he has stayed silent on his future plans, the Astana team have continued to build a lead-out train to support his sprinting ambitions, signing Max Kanter and Davide Ballerini. They have also been linked with Michael Morkov, who helped Cavendish win four stages of the Tour in 2021.
That was the year that Cavendish defied the odds to move level with Merckx’s record, having only joined what was then the Deceuninck-QuickStep team on a short-term minimum salary deal after being left without a contract going into the season, fearing his career was over.
But when an injury to Sam Bennett ruled the Irishman out of the Tour, Cavendish seized the chance to roll back the years with a remarkable sporting comeback, winning stages four, six, 10 and 13.
They were his first stage wins at the Tour since 2016, and completed a long comeback from a battle with the Epstein-Barr virus and a subsequent diagnosis of clinical depression.
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