Mark Cavendish: “There are a lot more than the two sprint stages there were last year”
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Friday, May 4, 2012

Mark Cavendish: “There are a lot more than the two sprint stages there were last year”

by Ben Atkins at 9:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Six possibilities identified by world champion but stresses that Team Sky is more than just a lead out train

mark cavendishMark Cavendish (Team Sky) is set to start the Giro d’Italia tomorrow, determined to add to his personal tally of seven stage victories in la Corsa Rosa. The race will be his first Grand Tour in the rainbow jersey of World champion, which is something that he is keen to show off, as he explained to a pre-race press-conference, and via Team Sky's website.

"It's always an honour to wear this jersey, most of the great champions in cycling have won it,” said the Manxman. "It doesn’t matter whether you put it on to go training or whether you are wearing it in a Grand Tour, it’s always special."

Cavendish took his rainbow jersey in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, and so the Giro’s start in the country gives him extra pleasure.

"I was really happy when I heard the Giro was starting here - it’s great to be back where I won the World Championships,” he said. “I love this country - this is the first time I've been in this part of it but it's a really nice place."

The 2011 edition offered very few opportunities for Cavendish and his ilk, with only three of the 21 stages ending in a sprint. The the HTC-Highroad rider was beaten to the line in the first of those by Alessandro Petacchi - although he did take the pink jersey from then teammate Marco Pinotti - but cruised to the other two.

This year’s race will be different however, giving the Manxman far more chances to show his rainbow jersey.

"There are a lot more than the two sprint stages there were last year,” Cavendish explained. “There are six possible sprint stages in this Giro so hopefully we’ll try and win what we can out of that and we’ve also got the team time trial for which we’ve got a strong line-up.

Aside from stages two and three - the first two road stages in Denmark - the fifth stage from Modena to Faro also suits the sprinters. Despite a few lumps and bumps in the closing kilometres, stage nine between San Giorgio nel Sannio and Frosinone will be a likely one for Cavendish, as will the long day across Tuscany, between Assisi and Montecatini Terme on stage 11.

Stage 13, between Savona and Cervere, is classified as flat, but may be a little too rolling for the sprinters teams to control; the fast men will get one more chance however, in the 18th stage between San Vito do Cadore and Vedelago, but will have had to endure four tough days in the mountains beforehand.

The World champion stressed however, that Team Sky was not purely at the Giro d’Italia as his personal lead out train.

mark cavendish"We’ve got some guys who can win other stages too so we’re coming here with a team built around winners,” he said. “Hopefully it won’t just be me winning stages and we’ll have a lot of different names by the end of the Giro."

With his season starting promisingly, with victories in the Tour of Qatar, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and Tirreno-Adriatico, Cavendish’s season has been subject to the very welcome interruption of the birth of his first daughter. While this has kept him away from racing a little longer than usual, the 26-year-old insists that all is still going to plan.

"I normally take a break after the Classics anyway so that worked out well and then I did Romandie, which went fine,” he said. "And while it’s easy to go away and miss home, this is my job so while I'm away so I may as well race harder and faster and make sure every day I’m away racing really counts.

"I don’t think there’s any danger of me slowing down!"

Team Sky’s Giro has not even started yet, but has already been disrupted by the withdrawal of Ben Swift - who was to be Cavendish’s lead out man - after the young Yorkshireman fractured his shoulder in a training crash.

"We’ve got Jeremy Hunt coming in,” Cavendish explained. “Jez is an experienced sprinter/lead-out guy. He probably hasn’t got the speed that Swifty would have had coming off the track but his experience will be important.

"We’ve got a great team and we’ll look to win regardless. It’s obviously a shame that Swifty’s not here but that’s bike racing."


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