Mark Cavendish: Tour de France record holder says the future is bright for Gareth Southgate's England
Mark Cavendish has won four stages in this year's Tour de France and 34 overall, which equals Eddy Merckx's all-time record; the 36-year-old has backed England's football team to bounce back from "heartbreak" of losing to Italy in Euro 2020 final
Last Updated: 12/07/21 1:33pm
Mark Cavendish says despite their "heartbreaking" loss in the Euro 2020 final, Gareth Southgate's England have shown that the future is bright.
England were defeated 3-2 on penalties at Wembley on Sunday night, ending their hopes of a first major trophy in 55 years in cruel fashion.
Cavendish, who is currently in Andorra taking part in the Tour de France, says watching the final alongside the Italian riders on his team made it a tough watch, but feels the way England carried themselves throughout their campaign has made the country proud.
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"A bit heartbreaking, wasn't it, last night," Cavendish told Sky Sports News.
"My room-mate is one of the Italians so we were watching it on TV and there were screams down the corridor.
"The boys did good all tournament really. It is second - I know what it's like to get second
"But when you can hold yourself as exemplarily as the lads have over the whole tournament, on and off the pitch, that's something that we as a nation can be proud of, that's for sure."
Cavendish has enjoyed a remarkable return to form after capitalising on an unexpected selection for the Deceuninck-QuickStep squad for the tour.
The 36-year-old had not won a stage in the race since 2016, but has won four stages of this year's event to match Eddy Merckx for the most in history with 34.
He has backed the England footballers to bounce back in similar fashion, and urged them to ignore the "awful" online abuse suffered by some of the players following Sunday's defeat.
"We've seen awful stuff on social media," Cavendish said.
"When stuff is coming from outside it can be hard to get in the mindset of coming back stronger, but that's what sets elite people, not just sportspeople, apart - the ability to bounce back from injury and from upset. That's what we want to see.
"At least we know now we've got an England team that we can have hope going into the next major tournament, that it's not just going to be 'can we get through?'. We know we've got one of the best teams in the world now.
"If you can turn the disappointment of last night into a positive, we know we've got this great group of lads and we know for the future things are bright."
On his own comeback, Cavendish paid tribute to the team around him for helping him return to the top.
"I've had hard times," he added. "Like we say about the lads last night, you've just got to bounce back.
"You've got to believe in yourself, you've got to know you can do it. That's what I did, I just fought the last few years. Things kind of fell into place, you've just got to grab that opportunity.
"To be tying the all-time stage win record at the Tour de France... 13 years I've been at this and that always seemed unachievable.
"Whatever the circumstances, it's nice to be there with an incredible team. They've believed in me and we've got here.
"Cycling's odd because only one guy crosses the finish line, but like in football there's a whole team behind - it's not just who's competing.
"They never leave my side. That's been the key thing; having this great group of guys around me, just believing in me and sacrificing themselves."