Mark Cavendish: Never Enough documents the rise, fall, and comeback of one of the most popular cyclists of our time—Mark Cavendish. Mark took an interest in cycling from a young age, and his passion for the sport remained the same all his life. It was always about proving himself at every point in his life, but gradually the situations changed, and he went into a dark place. The documentary features Mark Cavendish, and he candidly discusses the worst phase of his life and how important mental health is in sports. Mark Cavendish: Never Enough is an inspiring documentary that makes one believe in the phrase the best is yet to come.
What Is the Documentary About?
Participating in the Tour de France is the dream of every cyclist, and Mark Cavendish was no different. Mark was in his best form in the 2016 Tour de France. While Kittel and Sagan were leading the race, Mark came out of nowhere and won. It was nothing but a dream come true for Mark to win the opening stage and he was honored with the yellow jersey, a symbol of brilliance and victory. He was constantly compared with Belgian cyclist Eddie Merckx, the record holder of maximum stage wins at the Tour de France. While Mark never wanted to compete, the pressure to beat the record gradually got to him. The stress and pressure kept getting worse with every win.
In 2017, he met with a brutal accident during Tour de France tournament. A fellow cyclist named Peter Sagan was accused of being hostile, which resulted in severe injuries. The Jury President, Philippe Marien, disqualified Peter. Both Mark and Peter were compelled to return home. As a result of the crash, Mark struggled to find his usual strength and could feel his body shutting down.
Mark’s blood test report showed traces of the Epstein-Barr virus. Even though Mark’s health was deteriorating beyond limits, he did not stop like a true sportsman. However, a tragedy soon occurred. Mark perhaps lost consciousness and unexpectedly crashed into a boulder at the race in Milan because of which he was gravely injured. His wife, Peta Todd, remembered how terrified Mark was when he called and informed her that he had lost sensation in his legs. After the crash, the media declared that Mark Cavendish had lost his spark. He could sense people losing hope in him, and he was afraid of not making a comeback.
What Led To Mark’s Fall?
Mark left his week-old baby and wife home to participate in the 2018 race. He prepared for the Tour de France, but it gradually became evident to him that he was not performing as well as he used to. He decided to lose weight to gain speed, but Mark eventually became obsessed with it. That was the only aspect that he could control, and the immediate result gratified him. He gradually stopped eating altogether, and that impacted his health to a great extent. He returned to the Tour de France in 2018, and no one expected him to break any records. His teammates were anxious; after all, a number of people depended on his success. And as it turned out, 2018 was not his year either. From winning 20 races in a year, the team had barely won 5 in 2018.
Team Dimension Data, the then sponsor of Mark, demanded results, and this led to a conflict between the owner, Douglas Ryder, and Mark. On stage 11 of the Tour de France, he failed to make the time cut, and it took him double the time to reach the finish line. He returned to England and focused on training once again. His frustration resulted in anger, which led to conflict between him and Peta. Peta had trouble holding onto their marriage as he started to grow distant. Mark realized that things were slipping out of control, and he decided to consult Dr. Helge Riepenhof. After conducting several tests, it was found that the Epstein-Barr virus was still active in his body. He realized that it was the virus that had weakened him and made it impossible for him to perform better. Instead of being asked to rest, given how risky his condition was, he was allowed to take part in the race. He was also found to be suffering from clinical depression; he struggled to wrap his brain around the diagnosis because he was someone who never believed in the impact of mental health conditions. The doctor advised him to leave his cycling life behind to overcome all that he was going through, but that never seemed to be the solution for Mark.
Dr. David Spindler was introduced to Mark during a team training camp. After undergoing various tests at the camp, Mark was found to be underperforming, and his shape was not great either. The feeling of emptiness and worthlessness started to creep in. He was so overwhelmed with self-pity that he did not seem to care about anyone else at the time. Mark traveled to the Isle of Man, where he grew up, and Dr. David followed him. While Mark was hesitant about being treated by a psychologist, it eventually helped him overcome his dark phase. David realized that Mark started cycling during his parents’ divorce. The sport was a way for Mark to get away from life’s complications and enjoy every moment. It was all about evoking the same sense of freedom and joy while cycling again.
Not making it to the 2019 Tour de France was devastating for Mark, and Mark and Dimension Data’s journey came to an end. The 2020 lockdown acted as a soothing balm. Mark got the opportunity to spend time with his family, and it brought him closer to Peta and his children. Peta found a ray of hope for their marriage once again. At the 2020 Belgium Classics, Mark was back on track, but he immediately realized that he could not sprint. He was completely shattered, and he took off his race number. He was in tears and announced that he would probably retire.
How Did Mark Make A Comeback?
The CEO of Team Soudal Quick-Step, Patrick Lefevere, contacted Mark after watching him break down on camera. He wanted to be there for Mark and offered him a place on his team. Due to a lack of budget, Mark agreed to come with his own sponsor. Mark and his new coach, Vasi, instantly clicked. Vasi’s criticism was direct, and Mark liked it. Mark’s performance started to improve under the guidance of Vasi. The two had almost become family during the training, and it helped Mark to remain positive.
Sam Bennett was selected for the 2021 France race, but when he was not fit to participate, Mark replaced him. To everyone’s surprise and delight, Mark made the epic comeback that he had been dreaming of. As a result of his quadruple win at the France Tour, he now shares his dream title with Eddy Merckx. Even though we came third in the finals, he was proud of himself.
At the end of Mark Cavendish: Never Enough, Mark states that after enduring the fall, his priorities shifted. He understood that since he had a beautiful family to go home to, losing the race was not the end of the world. The support of the people around him and his own determination brought him back. He still hopes to win as many races as he can, but it seems he will be aiming for balance in his life.