Cavendish talks Tour pressure, takes fourth in British SPOTY award
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Cavendish talks Tour pressure, takes fourth in British SPOTY award

by Conal Andrews at 6:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

British rider Mark Cavendish has given an insight into the pressures he faces as the fastest sprinter in cycling, showing that beneath his confident, swaggering exterior there’s a weight of expectation that drives him onwards.

“In the Tour, especially, there are nine guys on the team and I have eight working for me,” he said at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in Sheffield last night.

“People don’t understand sometimes why there are eight people working for one guy in cycling – I don’t understand it sometimes – but it means I have got to finish it off. When they do all that work for me, I have to win – there is no other option.”

The 24-year-old vindicated his team’s work in this year’s Tour, netting six wins in all. He triumphed on stages two, three, ten, 11, 19 and 21, grabbing a very dominant victory on the Champs Elysées in Paris when he finished well clear of the next riders.

That was due in part to the Garmin leadout train getting the last corner wrong and thus causing a gap to open between Cavendish and his leadout man Mark Renshaw, and the rest of the field. But he suggested it was also the knowledge that it was his last day on the race.

"The Tour is 21 days long and every other sprint you have to save a little bit of energy,” he explained. “Obviously every cyclist dreams of making it on the Champs Elysées; to win there, seeing the Arc du Triomphe in the background, is pretty special.

“I had no other day that I had to save my energy for, so I could go 100%. I can do that [win so easily] if I go 100%.”

Cavendish was speaking in front of several thousand people at the awards, and the result was decided by votes cast by half a million viewers. The larger number of national football supporters helped net the award for Manchester United’s Ryan Gigg; he got 29.4 percent of the votes, with Formula One world champion Jenson Button and world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis finishing second and third.

Cavendish was fourth, clocking up 10.8 percent. Fellow Briton Bradley Wiggins, who was an excellent fourth in this year’s Tour, was on the long-list but didn’t make the ten-athlete selection that went forward for voting last night.

Triple Beijing Olympic champion Chris Hoy took the award last year.

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