‘May cause offence’ is the self-penned disclaimer on the Mark Cavendish’s ever-entertaining Twitter account, and it is a fair warning.
Cav, currently taking part in the Tour de France and arguably the most famous living Manxman, is a regular ‘tweeter’ on the social networking website, and his comments have given an insight into the highs, humour, frustrations and comradeship that is part of the life of a professional rider during cycling’s biggest event.
The sprinter set the tone early with: ‘Just pondered during massage on why Tour de France makes me more emotional than a menopausal woman. It just means SO much to me. I love it.’
The Manx Express also attracted attention for criticising the official’s decision to disqualify him and fellow sprinter Thor Hushovd after they made contact with each other during stage three: ‘Just discovered Thor & I have been disqualified from the intermediate sprint today. Seriously no idea why?! Devastated. Heard that Thor’s offered to take the punishment solely. What a true gentleman. I reckon it won’t change ****-all though. But thank you.’
The penalty, incidentally, was upheld.
On July 6, on stage five, the HTC-Highroad rider claimed his first win of the tour, all the more impressive considering the previous day’s bad news: ‘For those of you who wondered if there’d be tears this year, it’s happened. My ex-girlfriend called this morning. Our dog got put down. Sad.’
Two days later saw Cavendish win his second stage, and he showed humility in victory, acknowledging the roles of his team mates: ‘I crossed the line 1st, but I was absolutely nothing today without 8 of the most amazing guys I’d ever wish to be associated with. So proud.’
There was sympathy for a fellow British competitor after Team Sky star Bradley Wiggins had to withdraw with a shoulder injury: ‘Really hope Brad is ok. Devastated for him. I guarantee he would’ve silenced some people this year. Top bloke.’
He may have just broken into the top 10 stage winners of all time aged 26, but Cavendish is not above toilet humour when it comes to his accommodation on the tour: ‘This Goliath toilet [there was a photo attached] is making a mockery of my munchkin legs. Can barely reach the ground. Totally deflated man ego.’
And it gets worse: ‘One point today I got bad stomach cramp & farted unintentionally. Really thought I’d..ahem..followed through. So sorry to Liquigas guy behind.’
Following the disappointment of finishing second in the Stage 10 sprint on Tuesday, Cav showed grace in defeat: ‘Well, that’s me beaten. Went with 250m to go, but didn’t “kick” until 200m. Greipel rode it perfect & got speed by running up on me. Had dinner with warriors I call my teammates. Incredible how they stay upbeat after riding so hard all day & I don’t finish the job. Legends.’
And from the sublime to the ridiculous, illusions of glamour were dashed the following day: ‘Just took the surgical dressing of my saddle sore. Aaaarrrrrgggggghhhhhh. Maybe shaving just my legs isn’t enough.’
For the latest on Cav - see our Sports section.