Mark Cavendish will enter this year’s Tour de France with the possibility of breaking Eddy Merckx’s record for the total number of stage wins at the back of his mind.
Cavendish has 30 under his belt, just four behind the legendary Belgian, who won the race five times between 1969 and 1974.
However, Manxman Cavendish’s chances for overtaking the stage wins record in 2017 have been hindered after he was struck down with Epstein-Barr virus earlier this year, and he is staying realistic about his chances of pedalling himself into the record books.
Last season was a terrific, if exhausting, campaign for Cavendish. He won his first Olympic medal, a silver in the omnium at Rio 2016, having also triumphed in the World Track Championship in March, claiming a thrilling Madison victory with Sir Bradley Wiggins.
Sandwiched between those two medals also came the 2016 Tour de France in July, with the 32-year-old winning four stages and taking the honour of wearing the yellow jersey.
He also finished runner-up to Peter Sagan in the World Road Race Championship in October, which the Slovak won in searing Qatar heat.
Despite being one of the best sprinters in the world, Cavendish meanwhile is keeping himself grounded ahead of the Tour, which gets underway tomorrow.
“I think I’m fit enough to ride on the Tour,” said Cavendish, speaking on BT Sport’s Clare Balding Show. “Whether I’m fit enough to win anything is a different matter.
“Even when these young guys were coming through and they were beating me here and there, I always knew I was still the best.
“I proved that last year – I don’t want people to think that was a fluke. I nearly did all of them in one year: Won four Tour de France stages, wore the Yellow Jersey, second in the Olympics, second in the world championship road race, and I was world champion on the track in the Madison.
“No one has won world titles on the track and the road in the same year, but I won the track and nearly won the road.”
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