Past criticisms forgotten as Manx Missile and council finally agree date for ceremony

Mark Cavendish will next month finally be granted the Freedom of the Borough of Douglas on his native Isle of Man, two and a half years after he was told that the honour was to be bestowed on him in August 2008, reports the isleofman.com website.

The HTC-Highroad sprinter was singled out for the award, previous recipients of which include Sir Winston Churchill, Norman Wisdom and the Bee Gees, after claiming his first four Tour de France sprint wins in the 2008 edition of that race.

The delay in finding time in his busy schedule to receive the honour led to criticism of the cyclist on the island. That all appears to be water under the bridge now with the ceremony, at which Mayor of Douglas, councillor Ritchie McNicholl wioll present Cavendish with an illuminated certificate of the award, fixed for April 14.

If, like us, your sense of the calendar at this time of the year is somewhat out of kilter with the rest of the world and largely determined by when each of the Spring Classics is taking place, that’s the Thursday between Paris-Roubaix and the Amstel Gold Race.

Council leader David Christian, one of those to have previously expressed disappointment in the length of time it has taken a date to be agreed, said: "The council is pleased to have the opportunity to present Mark Cavendish with his illuminated address and officially bestow on him the Honorary Freeman of the Borough in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of international cycle racing and his service as an ambassador for the Isle of Man.

"It is especially fitting that the presentation, to such a world-class Manx sporting personality, should be taking place in the year when all eyes will be on the Isle of Man - and on Douglas in particular – when the Commonwealth Youth Games are held here in September and also at a time when excitement is mounting over the 2012 Olympic Games in which we wish him every success," he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.