- Full name Mark Cavendish
- Birth date May 21, 1985
- Birth place Isle of Man
- Current age 31 years 198 days
- Height 5 ft 9 in
According to the man himself, Mark Cavendish is the "fastest man on two wheels. Fact". It's easy to see why he's widely regarded as cycling's finest sprinter when you consider his performances at the Tour de France - he's already racked up 23 stage victories.
Born in Douglas, Isle of Man, Cavendish worked in a bank for two years after leaving school so that he could earn enough money to support himself as a full-time cyclist. Originally a track star, Cavendish began his career with the British Track Cycling team, winning gold in the madison at the Los Angeles World Track Championships with Rob Hayles - whom he had not raced with before.
A year later in 2006, Cavendish - now with Team Sparkasse - rode for the Isle of Man on the track at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, lapping the field with three others before winning the sprint to claim gold. T-Mobile took him on as a trainee and, after winning the points classification in the Tour of Britain, he earned a professional contract for 2007/2008.
His breakthrough came at the Grote Scheldeprijs in Belgium in 2007, with victory seemingly giving him the belief to go on to better things. Further impressive performances ensured he got selected for the 2007 Tour de France and, despite crashing in the first two stages, he took two top-ten placings to show he had arrived on the world stage. In his debut season, Cavendish matched Alessandro Petacchi's feat of recording 11 wins in his first season as a professional.
On the road in 2008, Cavendish continued his development by winning the Madison World Championships in Manchester with Bradley Wiggins and then claimed his first stages of a grand tour, collecting two victories in the Giro d'Italia. Four stage victories followed at the Tour de France before he pulled out after stage 14 to concentrate on the Beijing Olympics. His heavy workload appeared to take its toll, however, as he was the only British track cyclist not to win a medal in Beijing. In November, Cavendish called time on his track career.
Cavendish was on course to claim the green jersey at the 2009 Tour de France, but he was disqualified from stage 14 after it was ruled he had pushed rival Thor Hushovd too close to the barriers, meaning the coveted green jersey was no longer in reach. Still, it wasn't all bad; he set a new record for Tour de France stage wins by a British rider, with stage 19 taking his 2009 tally to six and his overall haul to 10.
Cavendish's 2010 season got off to a slow start, with dental problems forcing him onto the sidelines. His form suffered as a consequence but he finally showed he was getting back to his best at the Volta a Catalunya, finishing seventh in the open time-trial and winning stage two. At the Tour de France, he bounced back from crashing out of stage one to claim five stage victories, finishing 11 points behind sprint king Petacchi. At the Vuelta a Espana, late stage wins enabled him to secure the green jersey points classification. In early 2011, he returned to Belgium to win the Grote Scheldeprijs for the third time in his career.
It was at that year's Tour de France, however, that Cavendish's career would move into another gear. With a change to the points system in the sprint classification seemingly playing into his hands, the 26-year-old had made the green jersey his key aim. Four stage victories in the early part of the contest put him into a commanding position, before a testing series of stages over the Alps saw him narrowly avoid elimination from the race.
In the end, it came down to the final sprint down the Champs Elysees - a contest Cavendish won for the third straight year, securing his 20th Tour de France stage win (sixth on the all-time list) and with it a first green jersey.
That would be enough achievement for most sportsmen for one year, but not Cavendish. At the year ending World Cycling Championships in Copenhage, Cavendish became the first British rider since Tommy Simpson in 1965 to claim gold - triumphing in the men's road race with another trademark sprint finish.
The performance was the culmination of a heroic effort from his British team-mates, including Bradley Wiggins (who Cavendish had blamed in part for his Beijing failure), Chris Froome, David Millar and Geraint Thomas - as they lead from the front for almost the entire race in order to give Cavendish the platform he needed to secure another triumph.
Cavendish joined Team Sky for 2012, with his season geared towards the Olympics. He won just, just is the word for a sprinter of such reput, three Tour stages - with Sky focused on Wiggins. He hoped his time would come at London 2012, but the GB team were unable to reel in a breakaway and he finished out of the medals.
Winning six stages of the 2009 Tour de France - an unprecedented achievement for a British cyclist - was impressive, but winning the green jersey in 2011 (after five stage wins) was the success the Manx Missile always dreamed of.
London 2012. It is quite simple really, as Cavendish focused his whole year on Olympic glory but the GB team could not contain the breakaways and he finished out of the medals and is still without an Olympic title.
"When journalists at the Tour de France ask me if I am the best sprinter, I say 'yes'." Mark Cavendish
"Boil it down, my job is to get our sponsors' logo on that finishing line." Mark Cavendish
Cavendish is fourth on the all-time list of Tour de France stage winners, ahead of the likes of Lance Armestrong, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain.
- Cavendish surges to win in Wales (Sep 18, 2013)
- Cavendish wins second successive stage (May 17, 2013)
- Wiggins second behind Dowsett in time trial (May 11, 2013)
- Wiggins' hopes slip away, Hansen wins (May 10, 2013)
Cavendish elated at second stage success (May 9, 2013)