Nervous Cavendish working hard towards Olympics, is four kilos lighter
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nervous Cavendish working hard towards Olympics, is four kilos lighter

by VeloNation Press at 7:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Olympics
Briton drops weight in a bid to boost climbing

Mark CavendishKnowing that his chances of winning the Olympic road race will largely come down to how he can handle the nine ascents of Box Hill, Mark Cavendish has revealed that he has been working hard to become lighter in order to better deal with that section of the course.

“I am already four kilos below my normal racing weight,” he told The Sun newspaper. “My training and diet have become so specific, I have cut out sugar altogether. No sweets, no fizzy drinks, no processed foods.”

In the past some have accused the Manxman of being heavier than he should be. Those making the comments have included one of the world’s best ever sprinters, Mario Cipollini, who had a playboy reputation but who worked hard to be in shape.

He said that Cavendish wasn’t making the most out of his talents, something Cavendish denied. However with the twin goals of the Tour de France and the Olympic Games, he is determined to be in very strong shape.

It’s been tough, though. “It’s a hard adjustment to make, it puts me in a bad mood, I’m tired. I have always shunned the very clinical style of training, the sports scientists and nutritionists dictating my every move,” he said. “But I’ve come to realise it was the approach they took in the past which I didn’t like, I always felt like they thought they knew better than me.

“But the guys I’m working with now are amazing, we get on and I’m following every word of their advice.”

Cavendish recently completed the Giro d’Italia, having clocked up three stage wins in the race. He went close to winning the red jersey of points leader but a strong final display in the mountains saw Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) inch ahead by just one point and take the prize.

Cavendish was very frustrated at the time, not least because he lost points on the day he was brought down in a crash caused by Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela), and also missed out on various other occasions.

He was one of the few sprinters to stick it out until the end, and being pipped by Rodriguez meant that the effort was unrewarded.

Still, racing for so long is a likely reason for at least some of the weight he has lost.

Everything he does is with London 2012 in mind, including the dieting. “The Olympics course is fairly decent for me,” he said. “But it would be an exaggeration to say it suits me. I’m changing my entire body shape to give myself the greatest chance of winning, it’s taking a lot of work.”

Cavendish is clear on why he’s willing to put the work in. It is, he said, a feeling that he owes it to others. “I am the one who crosses the line but that’s purely because of my role. I’m the sprinter, I am able to give it a final kick at the last push.

“But the entire race is a precise piece of teamwork in which everyone has a vital role. It is thanks to the superb team around me that I can get in that sweet spot, where I can let go and be the first man over.

“If I win, the medal won’t be for me, it will be for the team, but most of all it will be for Britain.”

His rivals will head into the race planning to deny that aim, to seek to drop him before the final sprint and scrap it out for the medals amongst themselves. However, if he is several kilos lighter than he was before, that could give him the chance he needs to get over Box Hill. Will that be enough? We won’t know until the day of the road race, July 28, but between now and then he’ll do his utmost to be in the best shape possible.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling pressure,” he admitted. “And I’d be some sort of robot. But if I mess it up in July I’m letting the nation down.”


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