Ellingworth believes Cavendish on track for strong Tour and Worlds campaigns
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ellingworth believes Cavendish on track for strong Tour and Worlds campaigns

by VeloNation Press at 3:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Tour of Romandie
 

Mark Cavendish’s long-time coaching advisor Rod Ellingworth has seen the Manxman struggle to perform in 2010, clocking up just one win this season compared to eight by the same point in 2009, but he believes the tide is turning and that some important victories lie ahead.

Cavendish has wrestled with dental problems, family issues, a serious accident involving his friend Johnny Bellis, a new relationship and various other physical and mental distractions. However Ellingworth said that he had confidence that he will fight for one or more stages in the Tour de Romandie, which starts today [Tuesday].

“He hasn’t raced for a while but that was pretty much a deliberate plan. Even though Mark hasn’t performed too well, even though people haven’t seen him a lot, he has still been working in his way,” he told VeloNation. “He needed to have this time to re-gather and get some more background work done. And he has done that, he has done some great training in these last couple of weeks.

“He starts tomorrow in Romandie. We will see where he is there, and then he will go off to California, heading there early in order to get in some more training before the race starts. These [races] will be the big check. There will be a couple of stages in Romandie here when he will be putting himself under pressure.”

Ellingworth said that the HTC Columbia rider won’t shirk from digging in this week. “The thing is with Mark, he is not scared to actually go for it. He will put himself on the line most times, especially if it is a sprint. He takes that responsibility pretty well.

“So I think he is in a good place at this time. He is back on top of it. He has got a good block of racing coming up soon, and so it’s pretty good. I think he will be up there in Romandie.”

Many issues to deal with

Ellingworth has said on several occasions that the issues Cavendish has faced over the past few months might ultimately stand to his credit. He suggested that things had become too hectic and some time away from the limelight might serve the rider well and sharpen his resolve. Also, having a slow start to the season could well help him have more reserves for the end of the year, when he will head to Australia and bid to become the world champion.

“This is not just about the health issues he has had this year [a bad jaw infection], there have been a lot of other things going on in his life,” he elaborated. “I reckon that this is what he needed a little bit, this time for things not to go perfectly well. I think that is what gets people back on track.

“He definitely looked at himself and said, ‘okay, this is what I miss,’ and he has gone back to basics in the last few weeks, in terms of his training style and what he is trying to achieve. He is back to working hard now, which is what he needed to be doing. His focus is back, and a few other things are coming clear in his life...not [relating to] his job, but his life in general.

“I think that things happen at times and you have to deal with them. If you are not a happy person, your job is not going to be easy. So I think he has had to do all that stuff first, get things in order.”

In just two years of riding the Tour, Cavendish has nabbed a staggering ten stage wins. Last year he would most likely have won the sprinters green jersey had he not had a run-in with Thor Hushovd towards the end of stage 14. He was relegated, listed as finishing last in the group, and essentially lost out on the Maillot Vert that day.

Cavendish’s aura of invulnerability has been affected by the early-season setbacks, with his rivals now feeling more upbeat about their chances for the Tour. Hushovd is fully focussed on taking a third green jersey, while Tom Boonen has now decided to also target the Maillot Vert, less than a year after he essentially gave up on the thoughts of winning it again. Oscar Freire, Alessandro Petacchi and Tyler Farrar are just some of those who also fancy their chances.

However Ellingworth warns against writing off Cavendish. “My perception at the moment is that he will be good at the Tour. As long as everything goes well between now and then and he keeps building, he will win some stages at the Tour.”

As to how many that will be, we’ll have to wait just over two months to find out.

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