Cavendish rules out Sky move once again, says Columbia is best team for him
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Cavendish rules out Sky move once again, says Columbia is best team for him

by Conal Andrews at 6:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Top British sprinter Mark Cavendish has once again pledged his allegiance to Team Columbia HTC, saying that he never had a formal offer from Team Sky and felt that he was with the best team for him at this point in his career.

“I’m in the best position at Team Columbia,” the Manx rider told The Times. “I’m not looking for a contract. I want to win and I want to be in the best place to do that, and that’s Columbia.

“If Sky’s the best team in five years, I’ll be at Sky,” he continued. “If Radioshack [Lance Armstrong’s new squad] is the best team, I’ll be at Radioshack. I’m going to get paid the same wherever. But there was never a formal offer made to me by Sky.”

The 24 year old had a superb season, winning Milan San Remo early on, taking three individual stage wins in the Giro and then netting six victories at the Tour de France, bringing his stage tally there to ten in just two years. He won a total of 31 races (including criteriums and team time trials) and has decisively proved that he is the best sprinter in cycling.

While he’s undoubtedly got bucket-loads of speed, he regularly gives credit to the riders who support him. “At Columbia, I have a team built around me,” he said. “That’s how we won Milan-San Remo — we had eight guys riding just for me.”

Next year that leadout train will change as riders such as George Hincapie, Marcus Burghardt and Edvald Boasson Hagen are all leaving and heading to rival squads. This will require adjustment, but he says that the team will cope.

“It’s going to be harder to stay there than it was to get there and George was a big, big part of the wins I had last year,” he said. “We can’t replace him, but we’ll get as close as we can. The lead-out won’t suffer — it’s just going to change.”

One thing that won’t be different are his feelings about the biggest race in cycling. He wants to target more stage wins, of course, but his 2010 campaign will be based around chasing the green jersey. Cavendish will target his season around that, saying that the race is hugely important for him.

“The emotions you get from the Tour — I get goose bumps talking about it even now. It’s not a job to win at the Tour, it’s a dream.”

While he’ll never win the race, many parallels have been drawn between him and seven time Tour champion Lance Armstrong. The two are friends and there is a mutual respect there too; in fact, many see similar attributes as well, particularly in terms of what drives them.

“There are similarities in character,” Cavendish agrees. “We met in Vegas last year and we have a similar mindset on things, not just on the bike, but off the bike. We have the same sense of humour and we get frustrated at some of the same things. We have the same patience threshold.”

Like Armstrong, setting new goals is important for Cavendish. He doesn’t want to ease back, knowing that there are plenty of riders such as Tyler Farrar (Garmin Slipstream) who are chomping at his heels. They may not be quite as quick as him, but he needs to continue to work hard to stay on top.

Chasing the green jersey is one way to keep him motivated, and so too the world championship title. The next two editions of the worlds are said to be good for the sprinters, and so he’s got plenty to focus on. He’s at the summit and very much plans to stay there.


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