A rider’s palmares should have no bearing on their participation at a Grand Tour, that is according to Robbie McEwen.
The 12-time stage winner at the Giro was discussing the merits of Mark Cavendish going to the Tour de France on Eurosport’s pre-race show, The Breakaway.
The Manx Missile stands tall alongside the great Eddy Merckx as the leading stage winner at the Tour after a stunning return to form in 2021. The then 36-year-old’s win on Stage 13 in Carcassonne was the third of three successes at the Tour in 2021 to move alongside Merckx on 34 wins.
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However, the Manxman’s participation at this year’s Giro indicated that Fabio Jakobsen would likely be Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s lead sprinter at the Tour, and Robbie McEwen said that he understood Quick-Step's purported preference for Jakobsen and added that every rider had a used by date regardless of their palmares.
“If he was in another team that didn't have a Fabio Jakobsen, yes, they would take him to the Tour de France and they'd be mad not to,” said McEwen.
“But Cavendish knew the situation. And no matter what your palmares is, and how much you've won in the past, everybody has a used by date and the team has their own plans. And I can understand the team's thinking, but I can also understand a lot of people look at it and just go wow, they wouldn't take Cav to the Tour.
“But it's about who else they've got to use and what they feel is their most likely way of winning stages.”
And pressed on whether Cavendish was past his used by date, McEwen added.
"I think he's 37," he said.
"And he's not ready to be out of the peloton. He's just won a Giro stage in the first few days. He could still win races. But obviously it's all about business and just looking purely at metrics. They're (Quick-Step) saying Jakobsen is our best chance."
McEwen’s Breakaway colleague, Adam Blythe said that it would be folly to write off Cavendish.
“No one could ever write off Mark Cavendish,” said Blythe. “As soon as you do, that's when he comes back.
“And we saw that last year, no one was expecting Mark to win. And then he won. And then he carried on winning, he just needs to get on that start line, and no one can write him off.
“As soon as you write him off, that's when Mark bounces back.”
Cavendish confirmed earlier this month that he intends to carry on racing for another two years, and Blythe added that if the Manxman passes Merckx as the outright winner of the most Tour stages, it would be a record he can’t see surpassed for 100 years.
“There is only one rider, I think, for the next 100 years, probably, that is going to do what Cav can do if he gets one more stage.
“No one's going to be able to touch that. If you've got that in your team for a sponsor; it's huge and you’re not going to get that again for at least I'd say another 100 years.
“There's no one else that's capable of that any more. So, I just think it's such a hard decision for Patrick Lefevere.
“And I'd hate to be in Cav’s or Fabio Jakobsen’s shoes to have that conflict with between them because they just want to race, they want to win races. They don't want this whole stress with it.”
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Stream the Giro d'Italia live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.
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