Mark Cavendish could race at Tour de France despite team-mate claiming he will be lead sprinter

Mark Cavendish has not ruled out racing at this year’s Tour de France but said he would do “what’s best for the team” after his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team-mate Fabio Jakobsen claimed he would be the team’s lead sprinter in France this summer, with Cavendish instead riding the Giro d’Italia.

Cavendish, 36, rolled back the years in astonishing fashion last year after receiving an 11th hour call-up to cycling’s biggest race following an injury to Irishman Sam Bennett. Having not won a race in almost three years, and having battled Epstein-Barr virus and clinical depression for much of that period, Cavendish claimed the green jersey and four individual stage wins to draw level with Eddy Merckx on 34 wins.

His chances of adding to that tally this summer, by which time he will be 37, may depend on Jakobsen, the young Dutch rider who has himself battled back from serious injury.

Jakobsen was placed in a medically induced coma for two days and underwent several reconstructive surgeries to his face following an horrific crash at the Tour of Poland in 2020.

The 25-year-old returned to win four stages of last year’s Vuelta a Espana and says he has been promised the Tour this July with Cavendish riding the Giro d’Italia in May.

“He [Cavendish] knows that the Tour is my goal and that he will ride the Giro himself,” Jakobsen told Wielerflits at the team’s pre-season camp in Spain. “But he is ready as a reserve. He can do that like no other. And I think he’s happy with that role.”

Quick-Step team principal Patrick Lefevere did not confirm those remarks, saying “I don’t know [if Mark will ride this year’s Tour]. I’m not Madame Soleil – I don’t have the crystal ball.” And Cavendish, speaking after Jakobsen, said his focus right now was simply on regaining form and fitness after a horrible off season which saw the rider break ribs and suffer a punctured lung in a crash at the Ghent Six Day before armed intruders broke into his house in November, threatening him and his family.

“You have to bounce back,” he told BBC Sport. “People have had worse setbacks – it’s how you deal with them.”

He added: “I’m a professional so I’ll try and win where I can and where’s best for the team. I’m quite happy with how my career’s gone and happy to be racing in 2022.”

“Every bike rider wants to go to the Tour de France. [But] I’m a professional bike rider. I’ll do everything I can to be fit for every race I’m preparing for. That’s the job of a professional bike rider. I did it last year even when I didn’t know my programme, I made sure I was fit for every race I went to and I’ll continue to do that. It’s what I’ve done all my career.”

Cavendish, who signed a new one-year contract at the end of last year, hinted this could be his final season. “I want to spend more time at home and see my kids grow up,” he said. “I don’t want to be tired after training rides and I want to be around at weekends. I have plans, but they can’t come to fruition yet as I want to focus on riding. I am fortunate to still ride a bike for a living.”

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