Cavendish plays down green jersey bid
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Cavendish plays down green jersey bid

by Agence France-Presse at 9:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
British sprinter Mark Cavendish said Friday his Tour de France objective is solely to reach Paris with any thoughts of winning the green jersey far from his mind when the race begins here on Saturday.

The 24-year-old exploded onto the scene last year by winning a remarkable four stages on only his second Tour but pulled out early to race at the Beijing Olympics.

That ended any hopes he might have had of battling for the green jersey which usually rewards the most consistent rider in the points competition.This year, the Isle of Man rider starts as one of the favourites for the green jersey but he insisted that winning stages and reaching Paris takes priority.

"I want to win stages, for sure, winning any jersey is special, but I have never reached Paris, so to even think about the green jersey is a bit premature," said Cavendish.

"There are so many factors and there are so many experienced riders, I'll take it as it comes.

"You can win 5, 6, 7, 8 sprints on the Tour, but I think you have to be happy with just one.

"There are 195 riders all aiming to win a stage, so you have to be content with just one win.

"If I reach Paris, that would make me happy, that is all I am really concentrating on."

Having blown the opposition away on each of his four sprint wins last season, Cavendish says he is stronger this year, less nervous and eager to race.

"Each one of those four wins last year was special," said Cavendish, who is one of the few green jersey candidates who is relatively strong on the climbs.

"I am not too much lighter than last year, but I am stronger.

"I am fit, ready and have good support from my team.

"This is the first Tour I haven't been nervous, I know what to expect.

"The last couple of years overwhelmed me a bit, but this year it's a case of being strong and showing what I can do."

Despite being team leader, he says he does not feel the pressure with the Tour set to begin here on Saturday with a 15.5km time trial around the Principality.

"There is certainly no real pressure from the team, the only pressure on me comes from myself and I don't know anything different, since I turned pro three years ago," he said.

With former yellow jersey winners Carlos Sastre and Alberto Cantador amongst the favourites, Cavendish said there is also a real buzz about having seven-times Tour winner Lance Armstrong bidding for an eighth crown.

"I think it's going to be one of the hottest races in recent years and I am really excited to be a part of it," he added.

"For sure, having him here brings something special to the Tour.

"You see how much interest he brings to the sport.

"For the lads my age, who grew up watching him winning the Tour seven times there is a real buzz to have him competing."

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