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There’s no stopping Mark Cavendish as he rolls through his mid-30s – not even a handful of broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Cavendish told British newspaper The Sun this weekend that he’s on the mend after his recent Ghent Six crash and is raring to go ahead of his 18th pro season.
“We’re used to broken bones, and lungs heal quite quickly, so I should be back in the saddle in a few weeks,” Cavendish said. “It might push my season back a bit, and I’ll be in pain for a while, but I heal well so it’s not too bad.”
- Cavendish in hospital after high-speed crash at Ghent Six
- Rebuilding Cav: How Cavendish returned to the top of the Tour
Cavendish is still without a team for 2022.
He and Deceuninck-Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere have been locked into negotiations to extend their contract for several weeks, a process put on pause after Cavendish’s heavy crash last weekend.
It’s almost a dead-cert that Cavendish will be back with “The Wolfpack” next year after romping to four Tour de France stage wins and the green jersey this season. However, at 36 years old, Cavendish knows his late-career resurgence is only likely to last so long, and he plans to make the most of every opportunity in the meantime.
“My goal is to try to win as much as I can, for as long as I can,” he said Saturday. “There’s no specific number I want to reach.”
Despite making an against-the-odds return to the top in 2021, it may not be so simple for Cavendish next season.
Cavendish found himself in top sprinter slot at Quick-Step this year after the high-profile fallout between team boss Lefevere and injured Irish speedster Sam Bennett ahead of the Tour. Fabio Jakobsen was still refinding his form through summer after a long layoff from injury, leaving Cavendish in the default start-slot for the French race.
Although Bennett has now left the team to join Bora-Hansgrohe, it may be Jakobsen that takes top billing heading into 2022.
The young Dutchman romped through this summer’s Vuelta a España with three stage wins after cementing a winning combination with leadout men Florian Sénéchal and Bert van Lerberghe. At just 25 years old and with a two-year deal in his pocket, Lefevere may look to the long-term and favor Jakobsen when handing out marquee race-starts in 2022.
Cavendish indicated that his wife and four children will soon overcome his endless thirst for racing as he looks toward retirement.
Part of Cavendish’s ongoing negotiations with Lefevere are said to include the possibility of an ongoing role in management at Quick-Step when he finally hangs up his wheels. The Manxman also has a number of personal sponsors and interests, including a newly published book.
“My family have been on the back end of my career for too long so first and foremost, I’ll do what’s best for them,” Cavendish said.
“But I have options and I have desires when it comes to what I do next. I’m not lucky to be a cyclist, because I have worked hard and sacrificed my whole life. But every day I’m on a bike, I feel fortunate to be able to do what I love and I’m fortunate that I’m in a position that I can choose what I want to do after in my career.”
Cavendish also gave further details of the crash last Sunday that took him out of Ghent Six and left him in hospital for several nights.
“I landed on a bike, broke my ribs and ripped a hole in my lung. The hole is behind my heart, which complicates things and makes it harder to monitor, because it doesn’t show on X-rays, but I’ll survive,” he said.
“When I crashed I knew I’d done some damage and was in a bad way, that scares you. But the kids were there and my instinct was to stand up so they’d know I’m OK.”