Sir Chris Hoy believes Mark Cavendish can surpass Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage wins – if the Manx Missile sets his mind to it.
Cavendish’s three stage wins in the opening week at this year’s Le Tour saw him move above second-placed Bernard Hinault on the all-time leaderboard after claiming his 29th stage on Thursday.
Merckx is widely considered the greatest cyclist the sport has ever seen and for many his record of 34 is unlikely to be beaten, especially with Cavendish – who will switch his attention to the track later this month for the Olympic Games in Rio – now 31 years old.
But Hoy has seen the quality of his former team-mate firsthand from their Olympic days and believes if Cavendish decides he will break Merckx record, only a fool would bet against him.
Speaking before Thursday’s win, Hoy said: “I think if Mark Cavendish sets it as his goal to become the one with the most number of stage wins of any rider in history then you wouldn’t bet against him.
“You just have to look at what he’s achieved already in his career. I’ve no doubt that Cav could do it.
“But, having said that, it’s no mean feat to think about if he could continue winning at the highest level year after year, it’s a huge challenge. But if anybody can do it, it’s Cav.”
Britain’s most successful Olympian was speaking at Six Day London’s ‘Inside Track with Chris Hoy’ event this week in London.
Six Day London sees some of the world’s best cyclists competing over the course of six nights at the Lee Valley VeloPark in a party-like atmosphere.
Cavendish will be joined at this year’s event in October by his good friend and another of cycling’s iconic riders, Sir Bradley Wiggins.
And when asked what made Cavendish such a special rider, Hoy replied: “Cav is passionate about his sport, he gives it his all. The one thing he can’t be accused of is not caring about his performance and about the team and about the end result.
“I think the fans really engage with that. They love his excitement, his enthusiasm and he’s unpredictable too, because he can do almost anything at any time.
“He’s got a style of his own on the bike, he’s exciting to watch, he’s one of these one-offs; he’s a unique athlete and a unique personality.”
Six Day London takes place between 25-30 October 2016 at Lee Valley VeloPark on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Half term fun, with or without the kids. Tickets on sale now at www.sixday.com
Image courtesy of BikeRadar via YouTube, with thanks.