Cavendish and Rogers psyched to make their mark in Tour of California
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Cavendish and Rogers psyched to make their mark in Tour of California

by Conal Andrews at 4:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
 
Cavendish ready to show he's back, Rogers feels good for overall.

HTC Columbia riders Mark Cavendish and Mick Rogers are gunning to go in the Tour of California, being psyched to make a big impression in the top American race which starts this Sunday.

"I feel good,” said Cavendish, who had a slow start to the season but who is now gaining momentum. “I came to California early to make sure I was ready for the first stage. We hope to get the jersey in the first stage with me and then try to retain it with another rider later in the race."

Cavendish won the second stage of the recent Tour de Romandie, but was later asked to leave the event by his HTC Columbia team management. This related to the vulgar gesture he made during his victory celebrations, and his verbal blasting of unnamed members of the press. He will be keen to earn the right sort of publicity in California, and to show that he is back to top speed.

The 167.8 kilometres opening leg from Nevada City to Sacramento will appeal to him, given that it is widely expected to play into the hands of the sprinters, but stage two is very different. It covers 176.2 hilly kilometres from Davis to Santa Rosa and will almost certainly fracture the peloton, leading to a select group fighting it out for stage honours. The same can be said of stage three, which heads to Santa Cruz via the Bonny Doon climb.

If Cavendish does hold yellow after day one, team-mates Rogers or Tony Martin will try to take over then. Rogers was third overall last year, 45 seconds behind the winner Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) and appears to be in stronger form this season. He is fired up to try to do something big. "I'm excited to be back at the Tour of California," said Rogers, who finished second in Critérium International and fourth in the Tour de Romandie this spring, and is clearly back on track.

"With this year's course being more demanding than previous editions, I hope to improve on last year's result. We come here with a balanced team that is very motivated to win".

Team manager Rolf Aldag says that the race is an important target for the HTC Columbia riders. The ProTour squad is registered in the US, and riding well there is important for the sponsors.

"The Tour of California has always been one of the season focuses for our team," he said. "It was important to us to come here with a good team and the goal of being competitive the entire race.

"Mark Cavendish has great form with his recent win in Tour de Romandie so we will start on Sunday with the objective of taking the first stage win.”

After that, the emphasis will shift to those aforementioned general classification contenders. "For the overall we have Mick Rogers and Tony Martin. Mick finished third last year and is having a great season so far this year. He led Tour de Romandie until the final stage last week. Between him and Tony, and with the help of young American Tejay Van Garderen in the mountains, we believe we have a good chance."

The team’s campaign will be pre-empted by a screening of the new "Chasing Legends" film on Saturday evening. This charts its superb 2009 Tour de France campaign, and will further motivate the riders to ride powerfully and stamp their mark on the 2010 Amgen Tour of California.

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Roster for Amgen Tour of California: Lars Bak (Den), Mark Cavendish (UK), Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Bert Grabsch (Ger), Tony Martin (Ger), Mark Renshaw (Aus), Mick Rogers (Aus), Tejay Van Garderen (USA)

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