Bradley Wiggins was effusive in his praise of Mark Cavendish after an emotional Manxman indicated that Gent-Wevelgem could be his last race as a professional.
Legendary British cyclist Cavendish was part of the breakaway in Gent-Wevelgem, a rare occurrence for the sprinter, and in a post-race interview Cavendish suggested that the move may have been his last as a road cyclist.
Speaking on Belgian television after the prestigious classic, an emotional Cavendish said "that’s perhaps the last race of my career", and when pushed for further comment he composed himself to add "maybe, yeah" before cycling away from the prying eyes of the television cameras.
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Watch a tearful Cavendish hint at retirement - 'This could be the last race of my career'
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And Wiggins, who won Madison gold with Cavendish at the World Championships in 2016, said that he found the interview a tough watch.
“I think we all found it very tough to watch,” said Wiggins on the latest episode of the Breakaway.
It’s not the exit we wanted to see, considering what he has achieved
Wiggins added that it felt as though – perhaps due to the coronavirus-enforced truncated season – that the timing of the decision had been taken away from the 35 year old.
"We want to see him go out on a high. No one really expected it either, he never stated this was going to be his last year. It almost feels like the decision has been taken away from him," added Wiggins.
"It’s hard because you always have a romantic vision of where you want to stop. But, knowing Mark I just want to see him, not necessarily [going out] with a win, but just a celebration of his career. I don’t want to see him crying at the end of the race being forced out
Cavendish, with 48 Grand Tour stage wins to his name, will go down as one of Great Britain’s greatest-ever cyclists, adds Wiggins, who thinks his former Sky team-mate should be afforded the privilege of deciding when the time is right to retire:
For me it should be a given, there’s a contract here for as long as you want it. I understand it doesn’t always work like that but he’ll go down as one of our greatest-ever cyclists; he will get the credit once he’s retired. He’ll realise then what he has achieved and his stature within this sport. It was very difficult to watch.
The sprinter, world road race winner in 2011, has a palmares that also contains Milan–San Remo and Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne.
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