Mark Cavendish is gearing up for a historic attempt at the Tour de France with a well-oiled sprint train and a renewed focus. Unlike last year’s last-minute deal with Astana-Qazaqstan, which saw Cavendish and his team constantly playing catch-up, 2024 promises a more streamlined approach. Key components of his sprint train, including Michael Mørkøv and Davide Ballerini, are already aligned with his goals, setting the stage for Cavendish to potentially surpass Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins.
The British sprinter’s journey to the Tour is marked by strategic planning and strong team support. New signings like Mørkøv and Ballerini, along with experienced sports director Mark Renshaw and coach Vasilis Anastopoulos, provide a stark contrast to last year’s impromptu arrangements. This cohesive unit is a significant advantage, as Cavendish notes, allowing him to train with a clear objective and ‘hit the ground running’.
Astana-Qazaqstan’s focus on Cavendish’s sprint train indicates their commitment to his Tour de France ambitions. The team’s lineup, featuring Mørkøv, Ballerini, Cees Bol, Yevgeniy Fedorov, Gleb Syritsa, Ide Schelling, and Max Kanter, is meticulously assembled to bolster Cavendish’s chances of breaking the stage-win record. Mørkøv’s role as Cavendish’s leadout man is particularly crucial, with the British rider praising him as the world’s best in this role.
Cavendish’s preparation for the Tour includes a strategic race schedule, with no participation in the Giro d’Italia and a focus on targeted training blocks. He will kick off his season in South America at the Tour Colombia, followed by an altitude training camp. Astana Qazaqstan team manager Alexander Vinokourov emphasises the importance of altitude training, especially given the mountainous nature of this year’s Tour.
Reflecting on his decision to continue racing, Cavendish highlights the sense of value and happiness he feels at Astana-Qazaqstan. The support from his team, combined with the close call in Bordeaux last year and his children’s encouragement, played a significant role in his decision to pursue the record.
Cavendish’s journey to the 2024 Tour de France represents a blend of meticulous preparation, strategic planning, and a strong support system. With a tailored race program and a dedicated team, the Manxman is poised for a significant attempt at making cycling history.