Cavendish to rewrite record books?
With a Tour De France Green Jersey, the Sports Personality of the year award and an MBE under his belt, 2011 was a stellar year for Mark Cavendish.
But who exactly is the man known as “The Manx Missile” and what does 2012 hold for the man on the brink of super stardom.
Cavendish, 26, was born and raised in the Isle of Man and first got into cycling aged 12 when he asked his parents for a mountain bike.
His new interest in cycling followed him while meeting fellow British rider David Millar during a race on the Isle of Man.
The experience was enough to inspire him to take up cycling full time.
After leaving school he worked in a bank for a couple of years, to save enough money to support himself upon turning professional.
Cavendish’s big break in professional cycling came when he joined German Team T-Mobile.
His first major win came at the 2007 Grote Scheldeprijs race in Belgium.
He has been described as a good old-fashioned sprinter, one who focuses on getting his team vital stage wins on the flat shorter stages and one who excels in the final hurdles.
Cavendish said: “I’m an old-school sprinter. I can't climb a mountain but if I am in front with 200 metres to go then there's nobody who can beat me”.
Cavendish is probably best known for being Britain’s most successful sprinter in cycling’s premier competition - the Tour De France.
He has accumulated 20 stage wins and as well as being crowned the Green Jersey winner on last year’s tour, Cavendish has twice finished as runner-up in the previous two Tour De France events.
It’s not just Cavendish’s performances in road cycling that has made him the star he is today.
He competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games where he won gold in the scratch race and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, competing in the Madison event.
So after achievements which have seen him become the second-most successful cyclist in British cycling history, you may ask what’s next?
With 2012 set to be a monumental year Cavendish started his training much earlier than usual.
The extra preparation will help him be more competitive in the classics, held in the first few months of the year.
Once these are done the sport turns to the Giro d’Italia where he will be hoping to add to his number of stage wins in this event.
The Giro is followed by the Tour De France, where he will be among the favourites to retain the green jersey he won so impressively last year.
His extra training this year will stand him in good stead. Also aiding his cause is the fact that one of his main competitors, Thor Hushovd, has been out of form recently.
In July there is the small matter of the 2012 London Olympics. Cavendish will be participating in the Road Race plus the Madison event on the indoor track.
Cavendish himself has stated Olympic gold and retaining his green jersey in Paris as his main ambitions this year. If he succeeds it will only add to his upcoming legend status.