The AT50: Sprint Cyclist Mark Cavendish (#37)

From "Boy Racer" to the fastest man on two wheels
Staff Writer

Flickr/David Kusserow

Age: 27
Sports: Road/Track Cycling
Highlights: 23 Tour de France stage wins (4th place, all-time); points classification winner at the Tour de France (2011) and Vuelta a España (2010); 36 Grand Tour stage wins (9th place, all-time); 2011 UCI World Road Racing champion; winner, 2013 Tour of Qatar
Quote: "People have asked me what I’ve learned from the Tour, but what do I have to learn?"
Fact: Last year, Cav was named the Tour's best sprinter of all time by French newspaper L'Equipe.
AT50 Point Total: 36

Mark Cavendish, the so-called "Manx Missile" has made a career of dropping cyclists in the final sprint. If he can stay with the big guns (the Lance Armstrong types) for the first 100km of a race, all he needs to do is hop on the leadout train, wait until the finish is within striking distance, find some open road ahead, drop the hammer and—BAM!—he takes the win. Born on the UK's Isle of Man, he started out as an amateur mountain bike racer. Later, he joined the British national track cycling team and won gold medals in the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in 2005 and 2008.

Cavendish really made his mark as a stage-race sprinter, though, starting with the 2008 Grand Tour season. At the relatively tender age of 22, he took two wins in the Giro d'Italia and four in the Tour de France, catapulting him into the spotlight as Britain's most successful cyclist. Since then, he's shown an uncanny ability to get himself into perfect sprinting position time after time, and has won 36 Grand Tour stage victories, making him the 9th winningest stage cyclist of all time. The only other active cyclist to take more stage wins, Alessandro Petacchi, is 39 years old. Cavendish has a confidence that borders on arrogance, but if the bold young rider can stay in it for the long haul, there ought to be many more wins in his future.
—Peter Koch

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