Mark Cavendish has announced he will retire from cycling at the end of the season.
The 38-year-old, who is currently competing at the Giro d’Italia with Astana Qazaqstan, is expected to chase a record 35th stage win at the Tour de France this summer. He is currently tied with Belgian great Eddy Merckx on 34.
The Manx Missile has not triumphed on the road since June last year, although he hinted at a return to form by taking third on Stage 11 at the Giro.
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Speaking at a press conference on the second rest day in Italy alongside his wife and four children, an emotional Cavendish said: "I’ve absolutely loved racing every kilometre of this race so far, so I feel it’s the perfect opportunity to say it’s my final Giro d’Italia and 2023 will be my final season as a professional cyclist.
"Cycling has been my life for over 25 years. I've lived an absolute dream. The bike has given me opportunities to see the world, meet incredible people. It has taught me so much about life, about dedication. loyalty, companionship, teamwork, sacrifice, humility and perseverance.
"Today is my son Casper's fifth birthday. I'm fortunate it's a rest day and I can see my beautiful family and spend his birthday with him. And I think it's important I can be there now every birthday for my wife, Peta, and all our children."
Cavendish has spent 17 years in the pro peloton and claimed the points classification at all three Grand Tours, notably at the Tour de France in 2011 and 2021.
Among his 161 career wins on the road are Milano-San Remo (2009) and the world road race title (2011).
He has also starred in the velodrome and ended his hunt for an Olympic medal with silver in the omnium at Rio 2016, while he won three world titles in the Madison.

WATCH - Every single one of Mark Cavendish's 34 Tour de France stage wins

Cavendish labelled Astana Qazaqstan the “perfect opportunity” to win sprints after joining the team in 2023, but he has yet to taste victory in his new team colours.
His move to the Kazakh-based outfit in January came about after he departed Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, where he won four more stages at the Tour de France in 2021 to tie the all-time record, only to be snubbed the following year.
He boasts 53 wins across the three Grand Tours, with only Merckx (64) and Mario Cipollini (57) ahead of him in the all-time standings.
Despite failing to take a stage win, Cavendish has had an eventful Giro. He went down in a big crash in the sprint for Stage 2, slid across the finish line on his torso after a last-gasp crash on Stage 5, and took third behind Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) on Stage 11.

'Until then, he's not done!' - Walker details incredible Cavendish career

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16/05/2023 AT 15:28