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Mark Cavendish Reportedly Signs With Astana for 2023

mark cavendish 2023 tour de france teamCavendish in the green jersey as the stage 10 winner at the 2021 Tour de France with his former Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step; (photo/Tim de Waele, Getty Images)
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After finally securing a team spot following a dicey period, the famous sprinter now sets his sights on a Tour de France record.

Mark Cavendish will ride for Kazakh team Astana in 2023; the bedrock cycling paper Gazzetta reported the news on Dec. 18. The reported move puts an exclamation point on a months-long process that saw the 37-year-old connected to various WorldTour teams and ProTeams, but struggle to find a home.

Cavendish left Soudal-Quick-Step in July and then had become connected to B&B Hotels by November. However, the team cratered under financial pressure, and Cavendish hit the market again. Most recently, talks with Human Powered Health fell through.

All along, the buzz held that Cavendish was hunting for a team for one primary reason: to break Eddie Merckx’s career Tour de France stage wins record. Merckx retired with 34 stage wins — the same number Cavendish has now.

If and when he suits up for Astana, he’ll chase history.

According to Gazzetta, general manager Alexander Vinokourov called Cavendish with a both-sides-benefit proposition.

“You want to win, and I want to win: ours is a bet to be won together,” Vinokourov said, per Gazzetta (auto-translated).

When finalized, Cavendish’s deal will line him up alongside Astana’s current stable of six Tour riders. He’ll pedal alongside a group that did not pull down a stage win in the 2022 Tour.

Rumors had swirled for days leading up to the signing after Vinokourov made it clear he’d like to onboard the Manxman earlier this month.

Astana must now consolidate a strategy to play to Cavendish’s considerable sprinting strength. As is, the team is loaded with long-distance specialists in Gianni Moscon, Andrey Zeits, Manuele Boaro, and others.

Cavendish arrives in Astana with 161 career victories. Along with his record Tour de France stage wins, he holds 16 Giro d’Italia stage wins and three at the Vuelta a España.

The reported agreement details were unavailable as of this writing, and Astana had yet to add Cavendish to its posted roster. The 2023 Tour begins July 1.

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