Never Enough? That's Right For Netflix's Documentary On A Cycling Great
A Quick TV Review
Mark Cavendish is a modern cycling great - an Olympic medalist (silver, Rio 2016) across three Summer Games, and a renowned road sprinter who sits as the joint all-time leader in Tour de France stage wins (34, with legend Eddy Merckx).
Which all makes him a prime subject to get to know better. Netflix's Mark Cavendish: Never Enough, released earlier this month, offers an opportunity for viewers to do just that.
Frustratingly, the hour-and-half-long documentary isn't actually enough, and I found myself wanting. Cavendish certainly comes off as sincerely committed to his sport, and colorful enough to deserve his brash public persona, but Never Enough doesn't serve a deep look at the start of his career, and his development to become the person he is generally known for today. While viewers intimate with cycling and/or in the United Kingdom may be familiar with his successes and tribulations, those elsewhere - like me in the U.S. and casual observers who have just a general name recognition - would be better served with perhaps a multi-part documentary series. (Granted, coming off a viewing of just such an effort in Max's Shaun White: The Last Run has given me bias.)
Don't get me wrong...the perspective on Cavendish's struggles to return to form - through multiple crashes, an Epstein-Barr virus diagnosis, depression, and subsequent doubts amongst cycling's pundits - is presented thoughtfully and with engaging presentation. And, he is the hero of the story - despite his penchant for crashes and brushes with orneriness - one roots for him as he comes back to just almost surpass Merckx's stage win record.
But I'm left curious as to more of his background other than the fleeting mentions offered. Why did he switch from track (where he found Olympic success in the omnium)? What got him started in the sport in the first place? How did his career start, way back when at age 20 in 2005? How does he see his career as having been crafted, from track to road success, and back, and back again?
Glaring is the omission of mentioning any effect on his career a noted robbery and assault case where he and his wife were victimized. So maybe the documentary was finished at the end of the 2022 season - with Cavendish acknowledging "there's no number that's enough" as he contemplates that tied record of 34 stage wins. But a release date of this August also misses his retirement announcement from this spring. You'd have to be an extremely casual sports fan to not have been aware of that.
Turns out, there's even a new subplot on his maybe -just, maybe - return to chase that one more Tour de France win. Now that would be a great postscript.