Mark Cavendish targeting a first Tour de France yellow jersey on stage one sprint
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mark Cavendish targeting a first Tour de France yellow jersey on stage one sprint

by Ben Atkins at 5:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Opportunity for British champion on first day one sprint stage in half a century

mark cavendishMark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has had his red, white and blue banded British champion’s jersey for less than a week, but is already looking to exchange it for something yellower. The Manx Missile faces the prospect of taking the first Tour de France yellow jersey of his career as, for the first time in half a century, the race will begin with a stage that should see its finish contested by the sprinters.

"It's definitely a big opportunity for my career. It's been 50 years since a sprinter has been able to win and wear the yellow jersey after the first stage,” Cavendish told Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s pre-race press conference. “So I'm definitely going to take the opportunity with both hands. The team is motivated and we really like this opportunity."

Although Cavendish has been the dominant sprinter at the Tour since 2008 - taking a total of 23 stages along the way - the abolition of time bonuses at stage finishes has meant that he has been denied the same opportunity of his predecessors to take the race lead in the opening week. With no prologue in the race to favour the time triallists, and no uphill finish to favour the Classics men, the British champion could finally get this chance.

"It'd be a dream to wear the yellow jersey so we'll definitely go in and try our best to get that,” he said. “It's not a given. There are definitely some strong sprinters and sprint teams here. But we'll definitely do our best to try to come away with it after Saturday.”

Cavendish has taken the leader’s jersey in the Giro d’Italia - in 2009, 2011, and again this year - and in the Vuelta a España in 2010, but never in the Tour de France, and this is the one that he really wants.

“The yellow jersey is iconic,” he said. “Not just in cycling, but in sport. Every young cyclist who watches the Tour de France dreams of wearing that jersey one day. I've been lucky to have the support to win three points jerseys in three Grand Tours, the Giro d'Italia, the Tour, and the Vuelta. The yellow jersey is the only one I'm missing. I think to be able to wear that for at least a day in your life, it's a thing to make any rider's career. It's a thing you dream about as a child.”

A Cavendish victory on stage one is by no means guaranteed, with the likes of Slovakian champion green jersey defender Peter Sagan (Cannondale), and German duo Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and national champion André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) sure to be among his biggest competition.

Unlike in 2012, however, where Cavendish was left to fend for himself by a Sky team hunting yellow, the Manxman will have the entire Omega Pharma-Quick Step team at his disposal. While things have not always gone exactly to plan this season, recent experiences have given Cavendish confidence in his men.

"We've got a good feel after races with the team,” he said. “We've got a mix of experience in the likes of Gert Steegmans and youth — but youth that's excited to do it — like Matteo Trentin. We've got guys that are really committed to the cause. For sure we've got a great team here that's going to be committed to one thing, and that's winning stages of the Tour de France.

"Matteo is young, but he's got a really good head on him,” Caendish added. “He stays relaxed and he can read positions really, really well. You can see he led me out in the last stage of the Giro d'Italia, but he was more the guy ahead of Gert Steegmans. He can go for a long time, it showed in my 100th win in Treviso. In the Giro he did a 2km pull. He's strong, he's got a good head on his shoulders and he's my roommate as well. He's a nice guy.”

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