Cavendish surprised by good form, but not good enough for Tirreno
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cavendish surprised by good form, but not good enough for Tirreno

by Ben Atkins at 1:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo
 

Mark CavendishIn a press conference on the eve of today’s Tirreno-Adriatico, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) told the press that his interrupted spring was now getting back on track. The young Manxman was forced to delay the start to his season by an ongoing dental problem, but recent training and reconnaissance on the course of Milano-Sanremo shows that he is on course for la Primavera in ten days time.

"Now those problems are behind me,” he said, according to Sporza. “The last few weeks I’ve been able to train properly; I am even surprised with my level of form."

Unfortunately, this form failed to materialise in today’s stage and Cavendish was unable to match the pace of the peloton in the closing stages, being dropped on a climb with 25km to go. Nevertheless, the Briton is treating this race as a chance to get in some training kilometres, with no pressure on himself to get results.

"Tirreno[-Adriatico] is the ideal preparation for Milan-Sanremo,” he confirmed. “I feel no pressure to win a stage; I only have eyes for Sanremo. I want to go deep several times,"

Looking towards Milano-Sanremo, with Cavendish’s form at a lower point to last year (and by this time last year he had already won two stages of the Tour of Qatar and two at the Tour of California) he is less confident of defending his title. The young Briton is determined to give the race his best shot, however.

"I can’t say I will win again," said the 24-year-old. "Last year my form was great, but I have a chance now. With the number 1 on your back in your favourite classic and you have no chance to defend it is not fun."

Cavendish is philosophical about possibly not being able to meet his spring targets for this year. With a long season, and a Worlds course that should suit the sprinters, he is lifting his sights to important races later in the year.

"Fortunately I will get enough chances to win [Milano-Sanremo] in the future,” he said. “And I have other targets this year: the green jersey in the Tour and the World Championships in Australia. It is a long season anyway."

The enforced late start to his season also means changes to his upcoming race schedule he says. Instead of heading north to the classics, as he has done in recent years, he will go to Spain for more stage racing.

“After Milano-Sanremo I’m leaving immediately for the Tour of Catalonia, so I’ll miss Gent-Wevelgem," he said. "We’ll decide later about the Tour of Flanders. But I would like to ride and I think I’ll be at the start in Brugge."

On the evidence of today’s stage, it’s going to take a little while before Cavendish recaptures the form that made him the undisputed ‘fastest man in the World’ last year.

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