Mark Cavendish attended the Gent Six with his son Casper on Friday evening, enjoying a return to the event he won in 2016 with Bradley Wiggins and rode four times, before starting serious training for the 2024 road season.
Cavendish last rode on the 166 metre ‘t Kuipke velodrome in 2021 with local legend Iljo Keisse but was taken out of the race due to a crash. This time he returned with his five-year-old cycling mad son Casper to watch from the stands.
“The last time he was here, I went out in an ambulance but he loves it. My other kids are at home with my wife. We’re here with Iljo’s boys enjoying it,” Cavendish told Sporza.
“I never came here as a child, I was a junior when I first raced here. It’s incredible to watch it now. It’s inspirational with how fast they go and Casper loves it. To inspire the kids, to see a bike race live, is super important.”
Cavendish has often shown his young son love for cycling on his social media, with Casper riding alongside his father on the home trainer and outdoors.
“I’ve been busy, I’ve been travelling a lot and Casper was being a bit cheeky last week, so I said: listen, if you’re good, we’ll go to Gent. It was a bit of bribery,” Cavendish explained.
“We went for dinner with Iljo and his boys, who are growing up too. It’s nice to have a nice night.”
Cavendish recently rode the Singapore and Saitama Tour de France criteriums and visited Oakley in California. The Astana Qazaqstan team will gather in Spain in December for a winter training camp, with Cavendish ready to chase a 35th Tour de France victory and other sprint success in his 18th season at WorldTour level.
“I’m ready to start training again. The team is good, or even better for next year. I’m super excited for next year,” Cavendish said.
His goal for 2024 is simple.
“Just racing, I love it. I haven’t got long left, so I may as well enjoy it,” Cavendish said.
Cavendish was given a warm welcome by the Gent Six crowd and he and Casper presented Lotte Kopecky with a trophy and flowers after she competed in the women’s event.
“I love Belgium, everyone knows that,” Cavendish said. “Belgians know cycling, it’s not a spectator sport, it’s a lifestyle, it’s in their blood.
“That’s not particular for the Gent Six Day, it’s all races in Belgium, you can see the number of people watching and the knowledge of the sport. That’s why riders like racing here, it’s more than just a bike ride.”