sport news Tour de France: Isle of Man ready to party on Mark Cavendish's day of destiny ...

sport news Tour de France: Isle of Man ready to party on Mark Cavendish's day of destiny ...
sport news Tour de France: Isle of Man ready to party on Mark Cavendish's day of destiny ...

The jostle for prime position will begin before Mark Cavendish rolls into Paris this afternoon.

By the time this recommissioned Manx Missile attacks the cobbles of the Champs-Elysees, the race to be front and centre back home could be run.

‘We’re having a big party in Douglas, our capital,’ explains Dot Tilbury MBE, who helped run youth cycling on the Isle of Man when Cavendish first arrived in 1995 — and still does.

A big party awaits Mark Cavendish in Douglas regardless of the outcome in Paris on Sunday

A big party awaits Mark Cavendish in Douglas regardless of the outcome in Paris on Sunday

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‘There are going to be big screens, a big parade of bikes to the Villa Marina . . . and a big celebration.’

Few foresaw Cavendish’s rebirth — and this date with destiny at 36. That includes some on the island where his tour de force began.

‘The trouble is, we’re a busy island,’ Tilbury continues. ‘There’s things going on all over the island, every weekend — fairs, sport, secret gardens, afternoon teas . . .’

On Saturday, her village is having a field day. ‘That’s always well attended,’ she adds. ‘But we’re hoping for a good crowd down at the Villa Marina to watch Mark. I’m sure there will be.’

The weather is set fair; the forecast for Cavendish looks promising, too.

The 36-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence at the Tour de France this year

The 36-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence at the Tour de France this year

Cavendish is on the verge of breaking Eddy Merckx’s record for most Tour stage wins ever

Cavendish is on the verge of breaking Eddy Merckx’s record for most Tour stage wins ever

Remarkable to think that a month ago, the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider had not even glanced over the route of this year’s Tour de France. No need, it seemed. He hadn’t made the race since 2018. He hadn’t won a stage since 2016. And then injury to Sam Bennett opened the door and Cavendish’s slight frame smashed through it. Four weeks and four stage wins later, he stands on the brink of history.

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Victory in Paris would take him past Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 Tour stage victories. ‘I can’t see anyone coming close to that for years,’ fellow Manxman and former team-mate Peter Kennaugh says.

‘(I would) retire on the podium. He won’t, because he can’t.’ Why?

‘He loves riding his bike, that’s his identity, that’s who he is.’

Just reaching this final stage in Paris speaks to Cavendish’s resolve — over recent years,

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