Cycling legends on exit Mark Cavendish: "Rolexes were already waiting for everyone" Cycling

Cycling legends on exit Mark Cavendish: "Rolexes were already waiting for everyone"

Cycling legends on exit Mark Cavendish: "Rolexes were already waiting for everyone"

The word is out: Mark Cavendish is retiring as a professional cyclist after the end of the year. The British rider announced this during the press conference of his team, Astana Qazaqstan Team, on the second rest day of the Giro d'Italia. Several cycling legends have reacted to this end of an era and shared their memories of Cavendish.

Bradley Wiggins mainly looks back on the victorious World Championship in 2011 in Copenhagen. "It was a great honor to be a part of that," Wigging tells Eurosport UK. "The course was very suitable for sprinters, and we had the best sprinter in the world on our team. The key to success was to keep the peloton together and make it a mass sprint."

And that's exactly what happened, allowing Cavendish to collect the rainbow jersey afterward. "Looking back, that was my proudest moment riding in the jersey of our country. It was an incredible team effort, with Mark becoming the second British male world champion."

Geraint Thomas didn't believe Mark Cavendish

"I didn't believe him at first," Geraint Thomas told Cycling Weekly when asked about the moment he heard the news. "He has had an incredible career, and he's still racing, of course. I think we've known each other for about 25 years, which is crazy. Thymen Arensman, my teammate, is 23, so that puts into perspective how old we actually are."

Thomas also has his best memories of the victorious World Championship in Denmark. "I am very proud to have been a teammate of his for a long time and to have helped him win the World Championship. He truly is the greatest sprinter of all time when you look at his records. It was an honor to ride with him. We raced all over the world as juniors and gained a lot of experiences together."

Cycling legends on exit Mark Cavendish: "Rolexes were already waiting for everyone"
Mark Cavendish in Team Dimension Data's jersey.

Cavendish already had Rolex ready for teammates

Serge Pauwels, Cavendish's teammate at Team Dimension Data and Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, has the best memories of the 2016 Tour de France. "During that Tour, he suddenly sent a message in the group chat that he was leaving the Tour. But he asked us to come down anyway. He had a Rolex watch ready for everyone, engraved with each person's name on it. So, he had already arranged that before the Tour," Pauwels said on the podcast Wuyts & Vlaeminck.

So 'Cav' did hand out gifts, but was he as nice to his teammates during races? Pauwels said, "He was strict, but he was very grateful to his teammates. He was demanding. For example, he once wanted to be at the front right from kilometer zero. And if you weren't there, he would start yelling at you."

"Difficult riders are often also the best"

"He was very on and off," says Brian Holm, who was Cavendish's team manager for many years. "You always had to have a lot of patience with him. He could ride poorly, but the results would likely come. He was difficult, but it's often the most difficult ones who win the most," he tells Danish B.T. Sport. In 2006, Holm brought Cavendish to the highest level of professional cycling as the sports director of the T-Mobile team.

Holm eventually became Cavendish's team manager for several years - later also at Quick-Step - and has a close bond with the sprinter from the Isle of Man. "He is, first and foremost, a good sprinter. But he's also a rider who everyone has always doubted. From day one, he always had to prove that he was good enough," says Holm. "When we considered buying him for T-Mobile, many said he wouldn't amount to anything. Our coach told him he couldn't even win a junior race."

He describes Cavendish as one of the most demanding riders he has worked with. "But he was also my project at times when others had given up on him. There were many long conversations with Cavendish. Sometimes, he could throw in the towel - and he often did - and then you had to talk with him and his family."

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