With his now-successful hunt for 34 wins to match Eddy Merckx Tour record, Mark Cavendish is back in the spotlight at Tour de France. While his return to form is inspiring, it’s not just his actions on the road that have us cheering for him. Cav’s been funny, heartfelt and fast, making this Tour one of the best to follow in years.
Cavendish isn’t the only one driving the emotional roller coaster that is the 2021 Tour de France. But, with today’s win, he’s had enough moments of his own to make us love racing again.
All this, and there’s still a week of racing left before Paris.
5 time Mark Cavendish made us feel as the feels at the 2021 Tour de France
1) The Merckx Record
There’s no way this isn’t number one. Cavendish started 2021 hunting for a team – any team – to sign him so he could race this year. At the time, the Merckx record wasn’t on anyone’s mind, let alone Cav’s (or if it was, he wasn’t saying). He just wanted to race the Tour de France again.
13 stages later, Cav’s brought us all along on his emotional – and spectacular – return to form. Showing he’s matured with age, the once-brash sprinter was more focused on the moment, and on future riders, than he was on his own monumental accomplishment.
2) Cavendish congratulating Marianne Vos on her Giro Donne wins
From one champion to another. On the eve of his Merckx record-tying ride, Cavendish used the media attention brought on by that record chase to focus the spotlight on an entirely different rider’s accomplishment: Marianne Vos.
“Until we finally have the privilege of Le Tour Femmes next year, the Giro d’Italia Donne is the greatest stage race for our female colleagues. And Marianne Vos has just won her 30th stage of the race. This NEEDS to be big news. 30 is such a milestone.
She’s been my inspiration on so many levels, for so many years. The absolute GOAT.”
Cavendish using his platform to draw attention to a rider who deserves more attention is a class move. And Vos – along with all of women’s cycling – deserves all the attention she can get. She’s been at the top of her game so long, just listing her many accomplishments and world championship titles would put us over our word count. With 30 Giro d’Italia wins, Vos shows – yet again – she’s one of cycling’s greats.
Between Cav’s victory in France and Vos’ in Italy, there’s enough wins in that one Instagram post to start a hobby GOAT farm.
3) The first stage win in five years
Two weeks into the 2021 Tour Cav’s won so much that it is already hard to remember how long it had been since his last stage win. But, until his victory on Stage 4, it had been five year drought since his last Tour de France win. That is a long time for any rider. It is an eternity for a sprinter. In fact, until his win at Tour of Turkey in April, the Manx Missile hadn’t landed a winning shot in five years.
After such a long time, and so much doubt about his future in the sport, Cavendish was understandably emotional after his win. Whether you’re a long-time Cav fan or not, it was hard not to be touched by how much that win meant to him.
4) Happy Cav is a funny Cav
Cav hasn’t earned legions of fans just because he’s fast. As he’s matured as a rider, the brash young sprinter is showing a more relaxed – and funnier side of his personality. Back on form and enjoying racing, the iconic racer from the Isle of Man is one of the peloton’s funnier riders.
When the press learned he’d punched his ticket to return to France as part of Deceuninck Quick-Step’s squad, their focus instantly switched from making the Tour at all to chasing Merckx’s record. Cav responded the best ways possible. First with memes. Then with wins.
5) Happy Cav makes us love racing
— Sporza 🚴 (@sporza_koers) July 6, 2021
Cavendish isn’t just funny when he’s fast. His genuine love of racing is on full display when he – or his teammates – are going well. Seeing how much a victory means to Cav makes us all love racing a little more. As a sprinter, Cav’s always been clear about just how much of his success he owes to his teammates, so these moments are often shared, too.
After his third stage win this year on Stage 10, Cav shared his joy with teammate and world champion Julian Alaphilippe and we are here for it. Full credit to Sporza for adding the perfect French soundtrack for this heartwarming moment.