When Mark Cavendish won his first stage at the Giro d’Italia back in 2008, he was still a promising 23-year-old with a future yet to be written. He already had 16 professional victories, but still lacked the spark that could propel him to the highest level. That moment came on the seafront of Catanzaro, when he managed to beat Robert Forster and Daniele Bennati and start a magnificent story that is still going strong today.
Since that day, he has kept going, the Grand Tours have become his favourite hunting ground and today, at almost 37 years of age (he will turn 37 on 27 May), he boasts 53 victories! The total number of victories in his career is 160. This is nothing short of a legend of the sprints, probably one of the best that this sport has ever seen. In the Grand Tours, only Mario Cipollini and Eddy Merckx have won more than him, not just any two riders.
But the best thing about Mark is his longevity, because at the Giro only Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi and Olimpio Bizzi have had a wider gap of between the first and the last victory (Mark’s gap is 13 years and 360 days). His explosiveness, class and hunger for victory have remained the same over the years. The sprint he unleashed today on the Hungarian finish line at Balatonfüred is one of those he used to display in his most magical years: 300 metres of irresistible progression that gave his opponents no chance to get off his wheel. He did it at 23, he does it now at 37: impressive.