AGED 32 – 175CM | 70KG CYCLIST, MASTER SPRINTER
Just four months ago, Mark Cavendish’s future looked uncertain. With Le Tour approaching, injury threatened to abandon him at Dover. His absence on the track was later attributed to Epstein-barr – a virus that can lead to fever and enlarged organs.
“I was in incredible form, then all of a sudden I just wasn’t winning,” says the Team Dimension Data cyclist. Thankfully, a four-week recovery period saw him return to full health, if not quite full fitness. On set in May for our shoot, he is notably excited about having just completed his first week of training in two months.
For anyone else, this kind of setback might have been debilitating, but Cav’s competitive record suggests a singular drive for success. As a track cyclist he took home a silver medal in the omnium at the 2016 Olympics. As a road cyclist he has won 30 Tour de France stages, making him the second most successful stage cyclist of all time.
Despite being renowned for his blistering sprint finishes, Cavendish’s secret lies in punishing rides of five hours, six days a week. It’s an approach that has served him well, despite his need to excel in vastly different disciplines. “Road and track are separate sports,” he confirms. “It’s the difference between an F1 car and a rally car. Or like Andy Murray playing squash. My body has to do both.”
For the velodrome, Cavendish focuses on developing the core strength needed to shift his weight from side to side. For Le Tour, it’s intervals and hill climbs.
His diet differs, too. Track cycling is explosive, fuelled by muscle built on protein and yet more protein. But Le Tour demands a leaner athlete, and thus an inventive approach to calorie restriction: “If I go out on the bike early, I’m hungry when I get back and refuel at lunch and dinner. But if I go out later, I miss lunch and only end up eating two meals.”
Cavendish is optimistic about Le Tour, but has a cautious eye on Tokyo 2020. “I’ve achieved everything I can, apart from an Olympic gold,” he says. “That’s still the ambition.” In the more immediate future? “The next goal,” he says, “is
always to just keep on winning.”
TWO-TRACK MIND VARIED AND COMPLEX PREPARATION HELPS CAVENDISH DOMINATE IN BOTH ROAD AND TRACK DISCIPLINES