Cavendish blasts Greipel, rules out Tour de France collaboration
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cavendish blasts Greipel, rules out Tour de France collaboration

by Conal Andrews at 6:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

British sprinter Mark Cavendish has shown that his at-times difficult relationship with Andre Greipel has flared up yet again, vowing that the German rider will not line out alongside him in any race that he does. This apparently scuppers HTC Columbia’s suggestion over the winter that Greipel could have the chance to also ride the Tour de France in July. It also increases the likelihood that one or other will leave the team at the end of the season.

Speaking to the Guardian, the Briton said that being on the same team as Greipel "is not a problem for me, because I'm a better rider." Of the proposed plan that both will do the Tour de France, he is clear that he would block any efforts by the team to allow that to happen. “There's no chance whatsoever that he's coming to a bike race that I'm in.”

Cavendish won six stages in last year’s Tour de France. Greipel did not take part in that, but went instead to the Vuelta a España. He took four stages plus the points jersey there.

In Cavendish’s biography Boy Racer, he speaks about a long-running rivalry with the other sprinter, giving examples of how the two clashed. The relationship was thought to have improved last year, but things apparently deteriorated once more after Milan-Sanremo.

Cavendish finished a long way back after various problems, and Greipel felt that he deserved the chance to have also been there.

"I was pretty pissed with Greipel's comments after Sanremo," Cavendish said. "If he thought he could win, he'd say it before the race rather than when he's looking at the results sheet.

“It wasn't through lack of form that I didn't win San Remo - it was bad luck. Last year I won it picking my nose. This year it was possible I'd win again. There's no chance of Greipel winning a 'monument'."

Cavendish had a clear lack of form heading into the season. This was generally attributed to dental problems he suffered over the winter, although his coach Rod Ellingworth said in an interview that the teeth issues were just one of many factors.

Ellingworth’s implication was that Cavendish was not as focussed as he could have been, although he then pointed out that with the world championships being a target, a slow start might ultimately prove to be beneficial.

At the same time, Greipel was taking three stages plus the overall classification in the Santos Tour Down Under. He went on to clock up two more victories since then; the Trofeo Magalluf-Palmanova in Majorca, and stage two of the Volta ao Algarve on February 18th.

The 27 year old hasn’t won in the period since, although he went close on Sunday when he netted second behind Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank) in the Rund um Koln.

In what may be a veiled reference to the German’s wins early in the season, Cavendish said that only victories in top races were important.

"If I wanted to just win races I wouldn't ride every ProTour race," he stated. "I understand that at the moment I'm racing to be in my best form for the Tour de France and the world championships. If I wanted to get shit small wins, I'd race shit small races."

Cavendish has hit the line first on just one occasion this year, on stage two of the Volta a Catalunya. He finished the Tour of Flanders on Sunday and will work to continue building his form.

The 24 year old has been linked to approaches from Team Sky but the squad has also made it clear that it wouldn’t build a Tour team around him, as it is aiming to take overall victory in the French event within the next few years.

Cavendish currently has a line-up almost completely dedicated to him for July’s big contest, and this could prompt him to stay with HTC Columbia.

If Greipel is indeed blocked from riding the Tour, it would be virtually certain that he would leave for another team as soon as was possible. One possible destination would be Omega Pharma Lotto, which said recently that it needed a strong sprinter to clock up early-season wins and thus relieve some of the pressure on the other riders.


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