Mark Cavendish looks set to renounce his impending retirement and instead extend his contact with Astana Qazaqstan.
Earlier this year, the Manx Missile confirmed that he would hang up his cycling cleats and call time on his glittering professional career.
But the 38-year-old crashed out of this year’s Tour de France when attempting to set a new record for stage wins at the Grand Tour, breaking his collarbone during stage eight of the 2023 edition of Le Tour.
Currently tied on 34 stage wins alongside the legendary Eddy Merkx, speculation has been rife ever since that the Manxman would opt to delay his retirement and attempt to record an historic 35th win at next year’s race.
Now, several media outlets are reporting that Cav has indeed agreed an extension to his contract with Astana, with Cycling Weekly saying the following:
‘Mark Cavendish has reached an agreement with Astana Qazaqstan boss Alexander Vinokourov to continue racing in the WorldTour for another year, according to reports.
‘Dutch media outlet AD, reported on Tuesday afternoon that a new deal is close between the legendary British sprinter and his current Astana team, with the only current block being several rights agreements.
‘Earlier this summer Cavendish was within touching distance of becoming the record holder for the most stage wins at the Tour de France. The Manxman is currently tied on 34 with Eddy Merckx.
‘On stage seven of this year’s Tour, Cavendish finished second in Bordeaux to Belgian Jasper Philipsen. At the time the record-breaking stage win appeared to be sewn up, although mechanical issues with his bike prevented the 38-year-old from edging out the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider.
‘Later on in the race a heavy crash on stage eight meant that Cavendish was forced to abandon with a broken collarbone.
‘The Manxman had announced at the Giro d’Italia in May that his career would come to a close at the end of the current season, meaning that it appeared the Tour record would remain out of reach.
‘However, in the aftermath of Cavendish’s withdrawal from the race Astana boss Vinokourov told L’Equipe that he would like to see Cavendish continue racing in 2024.
‘It’s expected that Cavendish will make his return to racing at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Türkiye next month.
‘Meanwhile, Danish rider Michael Mørkøv has confirmed that he will leave Soudal Quick-Step at the end of the 2023 season.
‘Mørkøv has been heavily linked with Astana which could potentially reunite him with Cavendish as Astana look to strengthen their leadout train.’