Cavendish currently shares the most stage wins with Belgian legend Eddy Merckx, who dominated the first half of the 1970s, after collecting his 34th single-day victory during the 2021 Tour.
Merckx was there to congratulate Cavendish at the finish in Carcassonne that day, but the Manxman couldn’t add a record 35th stage in the final week of the Tour and then lost his place for the 2022 edition to QuickStep teammate Fabio Jakobsen.
Now the 37-year-old has joined Kazakh team Astana in an effort to win one more this summer, but insists his ambition is not limited to claiming stage No 35.
“I’m not going there to win one more, I’m going there to try to win as much as I can,” Cavendish told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “[The record is] not going to change my life, but as long as I can still be a professional bike rider and win, I want to be a professional bike rider. And when you’re a professional bike rider, you need goals, and you need motivation.”
For all the attention on the record, Cavendish insists he is still competing because he has the desire to race and to win, rather than solely to write more Tour de France history.
“I love my sport, I just love it. I’m a bike rider, I always was a bike rider. Why would I not continue? I think I’ve done enough for this sport. I think I’ve earned the right to finish when I want to finish and not have someone else telling me when I should stop.”
He is yet to pick up a victory racing for Astana after looking short of his best at Tirreno-Adriatico this week, but explained that he is still recovering after illness.
“I got sick after the UAE Tour, and I had a low week in terms of training because I had to recover. I was going well, and I really wanted to perform here in Tirreno, and at Milano-Torino and Milan-San Remo, but now I’ve got to use Tirreno to get my form back up. We’ll see, but it seems like Giro [d’Italia] and Tour are in my plans, so we’ll make a big summer.”