The pro cyclist Mark Cavendish, who is tied for the record for most Tour de France stage victories, revealed Wednesday that he and his family were the victims of a violent home invasion robbery two weeks ago as he recovered from serious injuries suffered in a race crash.
In a Twitter post that asked for the public’s help in identifying the knife-wielding assailants, Cavendish detailed the early morning Nov. 27 robbery at his home in Essex, England.
Police there released several photos of closed-circuit television security cameras that captured images of thugs entering the Cavendish residence.
The robbery occurred six days after Cavendish broke two ribs and suffered a punctured lung on Nov. 21, when he crashed in the final race of the Madison event at the Six Days of Ghent track cycling competition in Belgium.
It came in the tail end of a year in which Cavendish, who long has been considered one of the greatest road race sprinters ever, achieved one of the most stunning personal comebacks in cycle racing history in France.
“Shortly after leaving Intensive Care, 4 masked and armed men forced their way in to our home as we slept, threatened my wife and children and violently attacked me,” the 36-year-old Isle of Man native wrote in a tweet.
“At knifepoint they proceeded to ransack our belongings,” Cavendish wrote.
“Amongst what was taken, were 2 watches of great sentiment and value. But far, far worse to be taken was the sense of security, safety, privacy and dignity that my young family and everybody else is entitled to in their own home,” he added.
“The effect that this nightmare has had on my family is already heart-breakingly evident,” Cavendish wrote, before adding that “I beg anybody who may be able to help us with information” to call a number he gave in the tweet.
Essex Police in a statement confirmed the account, saying that the children of Cavendish and his wife Peta “witnessed the events.”
In addition to “two high-value watches,” the thieves stole a Louis Vuitton suitcase, according to police.
“This was undoubtedly a targeted incident at the home of a celebrated British Olympian, who at the time was recovering from significant injuries resulting from a crash whilst competing, which was well publicised,” Essex Detective Inspector Tony Atkin, the senior officer investigating the case, said in a statement.
“We are following a number of lines of inquiry as we seek to catch those responsible,” Atkin said.
“It is likely the people who stole these items are attempting to offload them for sizeable sums of money and I would urge anyone who is being offered these items to please get in touch with us – they are stolen property.”
Cavendish during his famed career has won three UCI Track Cycling World Championships, and 52 stage victories across road racing’s trio of three-week-long Grand Tours.
He first won a stage race in Tour de France, the most prestigious of the Grand Tours, in 2008, when he scored four stage victories.
Cavendish had several years of racing setbacks after he was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus in 2017, and again in 2018. He also suffered from clinical depression.
Cavendish did not race in the Tour de France for two years. He was only named to the Deceuninck-Quick-Step roster for that event this summer at nearly the last minute after another ride was dropped from the team’s lineup.
Months earlier, Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s boss Patrick Lefevere agreed to take Cavendish back on the team only if the rider got his sponsors to pay for his contract. Lefeverve told him the team did not have the budget to pay him.
Cavendish then stunned the cycling world by winning four stages in the 2021 Tour de France, giving him 34 stage wins in the event.
In doing so, he tied the 46-year-old record of Tour stage wins held by Eddy Merckx, the Belgian who is the most successful male professional cyclist. Cavendish narrowly missed breaking the record on the final day of the Tour, coming in a very close third at the finish line on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
Cavendish also won the Tour’s green jersey, given to the rider who wins the competition for the most points awarded in the event.
The Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar won the Tour de France’s general classification victory for the second straight year after scoring the lowest cumulative time over its approximately 3,500 kilometers of racing.
“Mark Cavendish is the greatest sprinter in the history of the Tour and of cycling,” Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said during the event. “His comeback is just amazing.”
Quick-Step confirmed that the team and Cavendish finalized a one-year renewal of his contract on Tuesday — a day before the cyclist revealed the robbery at his home.