Cavendish: “I know for certain I will not do Milan-Sanremo…maybe never again”
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cavendish: “I know for certain I will not do Milan-Sanremo…maybe never again”

by Shane Stokes at 6:21 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo
Manxman unhappy with changes to race route

Mark CavendishWhen he won the race at just 24 years of age with a missile-like hunt-down of Heinrich Haussler, it appeared that several Milan-Sanremo victories seemed possible for Mark Cavendish. However the Briton has now said that he’s considering not participating in the Classic again due to frustration with the planned route changes.

“I know for certain that I will not do Milan-Sanremo, and maybe never again,” he said while visiting the McLaren headquarters in Woking, Surrey yesterday. “If the course is not as it was before, my victory in 2010 will remain my only one.”

The reason for Cavendish’s frustration is the modification to the route that was announced in September of this year.

Under the planned changes, the climb of Le Manie, which this year topped out 204 kilometres after the start and 94 from the end, will be removed from 2014. In its place, organisers RCS Sport have put in the new climb of Pompeiana.

Although the five kilometre ascent is only slightly longer than Le Manie, it comes later in the race and therefore should have a more significant effect on the final outcome. It is located between the Cipressa and the Poggio, and thus gives attacking riders a bigger chance of evading the sprinters.

It should see increased aggression in the final hour of racing, potentially making the race more entertaining for the spectators.

However others will feel differently. The race was previously seen as striking a good balance between giving different types of riders a chance; as Cavendish proved in 2009, it is at times possible for the sprinters to hang on and make it to the finish; equally, as other years have shown, the course is just hard enough for explosive riders and climbers to slip clear, providing they get their tactics right.

That uncertainty about which type of rider would prevail was for many a key element of the race; as so many were convinced they could win out, it increased the suspense and also the style of racing.

Explaining the change, RCS Sport said that it had been done in order to make “the Classicissima route more and more spectacular and unpredictable.”

However with Cavendish now declaring he won’t ride, plus the possibility that other sprinters will follow suit, the organisers must weigh up that factor in 2014 and decide if the change has been a success or not.

In the meantime, Cavendish will be turning his attention elsewhere. He said yesterday that stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France are his big focus for next season. In order to boost his chances, he spent some time in the McLaren wind tunnel, looking for further improvements to his position and equipment.

His mantle as the world’s fastest sprinter slipped this year, with Marcel Kittel taking four Tour de France stage wins to Cavendish’s two. It remains to be seen if he can get his edge back, or if the days of him dominating the flat finishes in the race have come to an end.


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