Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Mark Cavendish

mark cavendish.jpg

The Manx Missile on scooter-chasing, healthy diet perils and the benefits of drinking vodka and soda.

Look beyond Bradley Wiggins donning a yellow jersey, and you’ll see that this year’s Tour de France was already a fresh chapter in British sporting history, as Mark Cavendish, Wiggins’ Team Sky colleague, became the event’s most successful sprinter of all time. ShortList caught up with the 27-year-old Manx Missile to ask what makes him so fast.

Where do you train?

In Tuscany. The weather’s good, there are a lot of mountains with short, sharp climbs and the food’s great. They live and breathe cycling there, so the roads are safer to train on.

Do you perform any special drills?

Riding as part of a peloton sucks you along at high speed, so I replicate this with motor-pacing, where someone rides in front of me on a scooter, putting me straight in a slip stream.

Do you have any impressive on-bike gadgetry?

An SRM monitor on my handlebars, which gives power readings to tell me what energy I have and how long I can sustain it for. It takes power from the force I put through the cranks.

You race up a lot of mountains. Have you ever tried altitude tents?

I don’t like them – they’re actually illegal in Italy. As a sprint cyclist, I don’t see the need for much altitude training.

What’s the secret to improving your sprinting?

In most Tour de France stages, the sprint kicks in between 200m and 300m, so I try to finish every practice ride with a sprint around 350m before the finish line. Sprinting over a longer distance saps my energy, but it teaches my body to go that bit longer, in case I ever have to in a race.

Any advice for starting a race?

Pace yourself. Most people get on their bike and go hard from the word go – even some professionals do it. It’s a sport where durability is key, and you have to worry more about your own energy than your opponents’.

Do you work on your calf muscles in the gym?

I don’t go to the gym. I get the workout I need on the bike. The only exercise I do away from my bike is stretching – I never used to stretch, but the older I get the more my body is torn into weird shapes. Other cyclists have their own workouts; the Scandinavian guys go cross-country skiing in the winter.

What body part hurts most during training?

My lower back. When riding a lot of climbs, the way you’re positioned on the bike for hours makes your glutes and lower back hurt. A massage soothes it, but it can be painful.

Wiggins famously enjoys a vodka tonic. Do you have a health-conscious cocktail of choice?

I only drink alcohol for five weeks a year, in my off-season. When I drink, I go for a vodka and soda, the purest drink you can get. It doesn’t give you a headache or heavy legs the next day.

How much do you have to eat before a race?

We burn 7,000 calories in some Tour de France stages. Our bodies have been primed to cope, and that involves eating a lot 24 hours before the race. Right before a race I just have two bowls of Special K. Aside from energy gels and fluids, I then won’t have anything until dinner. We used to have steak for dinner, but the trainers discovered our bodies can’t absorb steak for energy the day before a race.

That must’ve been devastating…

It really was. It gets quite long on a three-week tour with just chicken and fish [laughs].

Cav: Born To Race is out now on DVD

(Image: Rex Features)

Related

bradley_wiggins.jpg

The way of the Wiggins

Bicycle-Taxidermy-Regan-Appleton4-537x287.jpg

Bicycle taxidermy

hero.jpg

How To Be A Long Distance Cyclist

Comments

More

Eric Cantona is prepared to take the Man United job over Mourinho

The Old Trafford King gives his thoughts on Jose

25 May 2016

"I was the goalkeeper that should've been chipped by Cantona in 1996"

by David Preece

24 May 2016

Eight people you'd never expect to get a stadium named after them

They'll name them after anyone by David Cornish

23 May 2016

A senior Man Utd player has dished the dirt on Louis Van Gaal

by Nick Pope

23 May 2016

The 15 best-ever net-busting volleys

FOOT LIKE A TRACTION ENGINE by Dave Fawbert

20 May 2016

The Football League wants to create a fifth division: fans not happy

An end to midweek games? by Dave Fawbert

20 May 2016

12 hilarious Twitter reactions to Liverpool blowing their Europa dream

Obviously there's some Coke gags

19 May 2016

David Haye: Remaking a World Heavyweight Champion

Digging deeper on the most charismatic British boxer of his generation as he makes his grand return by Sam Diss

18 May 2016

Why the beautiful game is dead (by an Arsenal fan)

by Andrew Dickens

18 May 2016

Fernando Torres: "Leicester are like Atletico"

17 May 2016