• During a news conference at the Giro d’Italia, Cavendish, 38, said: “Cycling has been my life for over 25 years. It’s taught me so much about life, dedication, loyalty, sacrifice and perseverance — all important things to pass on now as a father.”
• He added: “This is a perfect opportunity to say with absolute joy in my heart that this will be my final season as a professional cyclist.
Mark Cavendish, one of Britain’s most successful cyclists, will retire at the end of the season.
In 2021 he equalled the legendary Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage victories.
During a news conference at the Giro d’Italia, Cavendish, 38, said: “Cycling has been my life for over 25 years. It’s taught me so much about life, dedication, loyalty, sacrifice and perseverance — all important things to pass on now as a father.”
He added: “The bike’s given me opportunities to see the world, meet incredible people who are involved and not involved in the sport - a lot of whom I call friends.
“Today it’s my son Casper’s fifth birthday; it’s a rest day and I can spend that with them now. Now it’s important to be there for every birthday, every school concert — important I can be there for them.”
Cavendish enjoyed a glittering career as a sprinter, taking victories on the flatter, faster stages of races, particularly in the Grand Tours.
He has won 161 races since 2005 and two green points jerseys at the Tour.
Cavendish’s other major achievements include an omnium silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2011 Road World Championships rainbow jersey, the 2009 Milano-San Remo ‘monument’ one-day classic, 16 stage wins in the Giro and three in the Vuelta a Espana.
He is currently riding for Astana Qazaqstan in the Giro, which ends in Rome on Sunday.
Cavendish experienced injury and illness from 2017, hinting at the end of the 2020 season that he could retire.
But following a return to form the following year he won four more Tour stages and the green jersey in his second spell with the successful Quick Step team, who helped reinvigorate his career. Cavendish and his family were the victims of a violent robbery at their home in 2021.
He was omitted from Quick Step’s Tour squad the following year, after which he signed for Astana Qazaqstan for 2023.
He will attempt to break the Tour stage win record at this year’s race, which begins in Bilbao, Spain, on July 1.
He added: “This is a perfect opportunity to say with absolute joy in my heart that this will be my final season as a professional cyclist.
“Right now there’s no need to talk about my short — and long-term plans — I’ll always be a cyclist, that’s for sure. But for this final period I’d like to just enjoy doing what’s made me happy for the last 25 years, and that’s simply to race.”