No respite for hero Cavendish

BRITAIN’S Tour de France hero Mark Cavendish admits he won’t recover from his green jersey-winning exertions until the end of the year.

The Isle of Man rider has only the briefest of rests before climbing back into the saddle – the 26-year-old is set to race again this evening.

His first competition on home soil will be next month’s Olympic test event, the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, before his thoughts turn to the Tour of Spain and World Championships in Denmark in September.

And only when the season ends will Cavendish get the chance to put his feet up and reflect on achievements that have prompted some experts to call him the greatest sprinter of all time.

“I won’t recover until the off-season at the end of the year – I’ll recover but I won’t recover fully,” Cavendish said yesterday, the morning after his triumph on the Champs-Elysees.

“It’s a weird feeling, the breaking of the cycle. I woke up this morning with no schedule to adhere to – normally you’re up, have breakfast and then you’re racing. But I’m racing already tomorrow night, there’s no time off the bike, we’ll keep racing for the rest of the year.”

Cavendish, who has won a total of 20 stages in four years at the Tour de France, is a star elsewhere in Europe, where cycling has a higher profile.

And fellow rider David Millar, one of only four Britons to have worn the Tour leader’s yellow jersey, believes it is high time he was better appreciated at home.

“The UK needs to understand we have one of the greatest of all time,” Millar said. “At the moment he’s the UK’s greatest athlete. He is probably the greatest sprinter in the history of cycling.”

Ex-rider Sean Kelly, who won the green jersey four times in the 1980s, believes Cavendish can surpass Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins.

“It’s incredible in such a short number of starts to have 20 stage wins,” Kelly said. “He should be able to match Merckx’s record. He has time on his side and he’s still very young. There’s no reason he can’t win three or four stages every year.”