Mark Cavendish, the renowned British sprinter from Astana Qazaqstan, has confirmed his participation in the 2024 Tour Colombia, marking his debut in this prominent South American stage race. The event is scheduled to commence on February 6th in the town of Paipa, Boyaca, and conclude in Bogotá on February 11th, returning to the cycling calendar after a four-year break.
Cavendish, 38, will be joined by Colombian teammate Harold Tejada and is the first major international cyclist to confirm attendance in this UCI 2.1-ranked event. The Tour is also expected to attract a number of leading Colombian riders. Cavendish expressed his enthusiasm for participating in the Tour Colombia through a video released on social media, inviting fans to witness one of Latin America’s biggest races in a country known for producing exceptional cyclists.
The veteran sprinter, who initially planned to retire at the end of the previous season, extended his career by a year following a crash at the Tour de France. Cavendish has traditionally started his seasons in the Middle East, but he has also previously initiated his racing programme in South America, achieving stage wins in the Vuelta a San Luis in 2013 and 2015.
The Tour Colombia 2024 is set to be a challenging race, featuring a route with a 2,800-meter-high summit finish, offering sprint opportunities. Cavendish’s participation is part of his pursuit to claim a record-breaking 35th stage victory at the Tour de France, dubbed ‘project 35’.
Astana Qazaqstan has reportedly planned a training camp in Colombia in January for Cavendish as part of his preparation for the upcoming season. The team has undergone significant roster changes, including the arrival of Michael Mørkøv as Cavendish’s lead-out man, alongside Davide Ballerini and Max Kanter to bolster the team’s sprint capabilities.
Cavendish’s ambition for the 2024 season is to surpass Eddy Merckx’s record for Tour de France stage wins. He equalled Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins in 2021 and aims to break this record in the upcoming season.