Procycling - - PROLOGUE -

When I found out Mr Mark Cavendish was the guest edi­tor this month, it brought back cer­tain mem­o­ries. I have a huge amount of re­spect for Cav, but my mem­o­ries stretch fur­ther back than most, as I have known him for 15 years. That’s ter­ri­fy­ing. As a ju­nior, I raced the Bri­tish road race scene and it’s far from a se­cret I was Bri­tish. Cav is one year older than me and though we would never be close to be­ing ri­vals for a win to­day, back then it was a freefor-all – though I don’t re­mem­ber ever beat­ing him in a sprint.

Our first real in­ter­ac­tion was rid­ing for Team South West as a pseudo-Team GB at the ju­nior World Cup Tour de Lor­raine in May, 2003: Matt Bram­meier, Bruce Edgar, Ed Perry, Cav and my­self. After dread­ful travel to the race, which in­volved an overnight ferry fol­lowed by the whole team be­ing packed into the same car, ev­ery­one bar me was dropped on stage 1.

We were rub­bish, but we had a laugh. Bram­meier and Cav coined the nick­name Twiggy for me mainly be­cause I was skinny – or they were fat. But this ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing away to­gether helps cre­ate a bond.

I grew up in an in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive fam­ily at­mos­phere. Go­ing to races was the high­light of the fam­ily week – some­thing I per­haps took for granted as Cav and Bram­meier used to show up hav­ing driven them­selves to a race.

For qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the ju­nior Worlds, a handful of riders had to per­form ef­fort tests at Manch­ester velo­drome. These tests are usu­ally about power to weight and do not suit a sprinter at all. Cav was told he was not very good. That this fat kid from the Isle of Man, who sci­en­tists said was not very good, who worked in a bank and drove him­self to races is now so close to be­com­ing the most suc­cess­ful Tour stage win­ner in his­tory is tes­ta­ment to his de­ter­mi­na­tion and self-be­lief. How many young cy­clists have sim­ply thrown in the towel when told they don’t have it – what­ever ‘it’ is – or face some other ad­ver­sity. It’s no won­der Cav has crossed the line first so many times: his grit and nat­u­ral de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed is in­sa­tiable.

I have an in­cred­i­ble amount of re­spect for what he has achieved and how he has got him­self there, but for me he is and al­ways will be Cav: the loud­mouth fat kid from the Isle of Man who calls me Twiggy.

Dan and Mark Cavendish go back 15 years, and used to race as ju­niors on the Bri­tish scene

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