Mark Cavendish wins stage 2 of the Tour of Hungary.

Mark Cavendish signs-of-life alert!

After winning a stage at the Tour of Hungary, he's now nailed on to accomplish mission no. 35.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 09.05.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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He’s back! Mark Cavendish has won stage 2 of the Tour of Hungary, outsprinting Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) to claim a second victory of the season.

After an account-opening victory in the Tour Colombia, he failed to finish either the UAE Tour or Tirreno-Adriatico thanks to illness before an anonymous outing at the Tour of Türkiye – historically a happy hunting ground for the greatest sprinter of all time.

That week east, mostly spent outside the top 100 places on each stage, rang alarm bells for a fickle fanbase. For any rider, you never know when their last career win will be. It arrives sudden and unexpectedly. For riders aged 38, the situation is even more precarious. One day you may wake up and just no longer have the legs.

Not Cavendish: Like a Rottweiler with a mouthful of nettles, he likely read the tweets, the articles, and effed and jeffed his way around Turkey before moving on to Hungary. There, he improved on his opening stage result of sixth, flung from out of the wheel of legendary leadout man Michael Mørkøv with 200 metres to go and holding his speed to ward off a charging Groenewegen.

Almost without fail, just when you’re ready to write him off, Cavendish finds his form and delivers a result just in time to make his teammates and the public promise to not doubt ever again, until we all inevitably do.

For Cavendish, by this point, it’s all just noise. Nonsense and noise. He’s got one thing left to tick off, that 35th Tour de France stage win, then he can collect his final paycheck from Astana manager Alexandre Vinokourov, say thank you very much, and then plonk himself behind the Eurosport studio’s table, or flog overpriced watches, or whatever he wants to do to top up his retirement fund. He’s more than earned it.

With three uphill finishes left in Hungary, and no other races currently on his programme before the Tour, this was the very last chance for Cavendish to drum up a pre-Florence win.

“I came here after a good training block and with a team that largely consists of riders who will also participate in the Tour de France,” Cavendish said post-victory. “That is very good.”

Very good indeed. Roll on the Tour.

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