Name: Mark Cavendish
2011 WorldTour ranking: 27
- Road World Championships: 1st
- Tour de France: 5 stages, green jersey winner
- Giro d’Italia: won stages 10 & 12, plus team time trial (stage 1)
- Tour of Oman: won stage 6
- Grote Scheldeprijs: 1st
- Tour of Britain: won stages 1 & 8b
- 17 race wins
- BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Why I like him:
I’ve always been a sucker for a bunch sprint – there are few moments in cycling as thrilling – and Mark Cavendish is the most devastating exponent of the sprint finish in the peloton today. A combination of tactical awareness and blistering acceleration have made him the man to beat on flat road stages over the past four years, as an impressive tally of stage wins at the Tour de France (20), Giro d’Italia (seven) and Vuelta a Espana (three) attests. He has won the points competitions at both the Tour and the Vuelta, as well as the one-day classic Milan-San Remo, and in 2011 became only the second Briton to earn the world champion’s rainbow jersey, which he will wear throughout this season.
More than mere statistics, however, Cav is a genuine personality in an increasingly sanitised sporting world. He is neither the most outgoing nor the most articulate rider in the peloton, but he wears his heart on his sleeve, is unfailingly honest and thoughtful in interviews, and is genuinely appreciative of his teammates. Most of all, the man loves to win.
Cavendish and his model girlfriend Peta Todd (@petatodd) are expecting their first child (a daughter) together this spring, a baby which was conceived during last year’s Tour.
Where to see him in 2012:
This year’s World Championship course does not favour sprinters, so expect Cavendish’s 2012 season to start relatively late and revolve around twin July objectives: the Tour de France and the London Olympics road race. He is also likely to target Milan-San Remo (March) and the Giro (May).
Watch out for regular updates tracking Mark Cavendish’s 2012 season over the coming months.