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Freeman Cebu Sports

Mark Cavendish’s Magical Year

ALLEZ - JV Araneta - The Freeman

The last significant picture I saw of Mark Cavendish was October of last year, when he was bawling out, bidding adieu to the fans in front of Belgian TV. His 2020 was a shell of his former self and therefore, no team would sign him up.

At the last moment, in 2021, his former tea, Deceuninck-Quick Step signed him up. However, it wasn’t the team that paid his salary but his personal sponsor.

The Manx Missile is probably the greatest sprinter in the world, but his story is not that simple this year. It’s more fiction than fact, if you ask me. A combination of bad luck, spectacular crashes, Epstein-Barr disease and tons of bad luck was what was in his bag the past few years.

When DQS took him in, I thought it was more of PR move for the team than anything else. Cav wasn’t winning, and DQS had the best sprinter in the world in Sam Bennett. They also had the best sprint train and they don’t need Cav.

Early this season, on the Tour of Turkey, Cav showed his old form winning 4 stages, his first win since 2018. But DQS director sportif Patrick Levefre wasn’t excited enough to bring him and Bennett to the Tour. And so, it was a long shot that Cav would go to the Tour considering that the team needed 6 domestiques for Julian Alaphilippe and Bennett. Cav didn’t fit it. It would take an Act of God to realign destiny.

So at that point, the talk was all about Cav staying at home. Then suddenly, the heavens suddenly set into motion so may separate events that led to this moment. One, at the least minute, Bennett was unavailable because of a nee injury that didn’t heal properly. This angered Lefevre and threaten to bench Bennett and dock his salary. Without any sprinter, Cav’s number was called. Imagine that, in the nick of time!!!

Two, two of Cav’s rivals, Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan, collided during stage 3 sprint and crashed, leaving Ewan with a broken collarbone and Peter Sagan leaving the race 10 stages  later for a painful knee, indirectly a result from the crash.

Three, Tim Merlier, another rival sprinter, abandoned after winning a stage for mental and physical fatigue. Four, another rival, Wout van Aert, wasn’t contesting the sprint as he was taking care of his team leader, Primoz Roglic.

When he won stage 4, everybody erupted in great joy, for here was a man who had feared his career was over at 36, and now given a chance to write his own exit.

And not only that everyone was talking about Cav beating the the record of most Tour stage wins of 34, held by the GOAT, Eddy Merckx. The he won stages 6, 10 and 13, setting for what is to be one of the greatest story of the Tour outside of the Yellow Jersey.

Do I think Cav will break the Cannibal’s record? For me, there is no doubt. The spokes of the planets just done align this perfectly and then go wobbly in the end. The cycling gods won’t allow that to happen. If it doesn’t happen this year, I don’t think Cav can comeback next year. You cant be singular in cycling for two straight years. It doesn’t happen.

Steve Jobs said it best. Virtual reality field. Make it happen, Cav!

MARK CAVENDISH
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