'I'm in shock' - Mark Cavendish reacts to hard but beautiful Tour de France route
Sprinter aims to win a record-setting 35th stage win in the 2024 Tour de France
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Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France route presentation in Paris
Mark Cavendish was left blown away by the Tour de France route presentation in Paris on Wednesday with the veteran sprinter stating that he was in shock following ASO's unveiling of the 2024 race.
In total there are four pure mountain summit finishes, two time trials, a stage dedicated to gravel, and up to eight sprint stages. In reality, however, a number of those sprint stages will be hard fought with breakaway specialists keen to break up the sprinters’ control of the race.
"It's so hard, it is so hard. I am actually in a bit of shock! It is so hard,” Cavendish told GCN and other members of the media after watching the route presentation in Paris.
"There's a few [sprint opportunities], but you've got to get to them, that's the problem you know.
"The start in Italy is super nice, it is right by my home for many years. It is only a few kilometres away, so I know the first kilometres really well, but it makes no difference because it starts hard, finishes hard and is all hard. It will be beautiful in Italy, the Giro is always an incredible race and I know the Tuscan people just love cycling. It is really quite special."
Cavendish had been due to retire from the sport at the end of this season, but after crashing out of the Tour de France this summer, he decided to remain in the pro peloton for another year as he looks to outright beat Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins.
The Manxman equalled the record in 2021 but has not been present or able to edge past the Belgian rider in the last two years. According to the Astana-Qazaqstan rider, his first chance at success could be on stage 3 of next year’s race, with a finish in Torino.
"I think Torino should offer the chance for sprinters. It is a difficult Tour de France, you know, it could be more comfortable."
Astana have looked to beef up their leadout train in order to help the 38-year-old next season. Max Kanter has been signed from Movistar, while Michael Mørkøv, Rüdiger Selig and Davide Ballerini have all been added to the 2024 roster.
"It's kind of still in the process, we know roughly what we are doing [next year].
"There's Kanter there [in the team] as well, we have two German guys who should work together. It's a good group, I've seen a lot of the new guys."
Additional reporting by Matilda Price.