Tour of California: Mark Cavendish satisfied with first day success
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Tour of California: Mark Cavendish satisfied with first day success

by Jered Gruber at 2:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
The Manx missile fires in the US

Mark Cavendish appears to be back to his sprinting form of old, following a solid win in the opening stage of the AMGEN Tour of California. The 10-time Tour de France stage winner took the win ahead of Juan Jose Haedo following a nervous and crash-marred finale in Sacramento.

Following the race, Cavendish was relaxed and confident, and answered the myriad of questions with aplomb, but in an almost whisper. When asked about the Tour de Romandie victory salute debacle and whether he was thinking about that as he crossed the line, Cavendish was blunt and didn't pass up on an opportunity to give a healthy nod to his recently released book.

"I honestly don't think about my celebrations too much. You should read my book, Boy Racer. It's out in America now. I'll be doing some book signings during and after the Tour of California. It's a good book. In the book, I talk about how I switch off my emotions during the race. As soon as I cross the line, it all comes out. Most things are pretty impromptu, it's just all that emotion built up inside. When I cross the line first, sometimes I'm a quick thinker and come up with something, but for the most part, it's pretty impromptu."

At this point, a journalist in the crowd, pulled out a copy and handed it to Cavendish. He dutifully held the book up and flashed a big grin.

The big crash in the finishing circuit raised questions as to whether the circuit was too dangerous, but Cavendish was quick to dismiss that and reminded the gathered masses that just as bike racers make a race hard and not the route, bike racers also make a race dangerous - not necessarily the route.

"The circuit itself isn't dangerous, it's the mayhem going on that's dangerous. I didn't see anything. My boys had taken control of the race, and I was in the best position. My team kept me out of trouble. There were a lot of people dive bombing the corners. I knew they were going to crash because of the number of people taking risks, but I suppose in my former years I did the same thing."

Looking beyond the first stage, Cavendish was quick to admit that this will be a tough Tour of California to win a lot of stages: "It's a hard race - you don't know how many times I heard in the race today in the peloton: what, this is the easy stage?! It's a pretty hard course this year, and sure, there might be some more sprints, but it depends."

Cavendish took a moment to defend himself as a sprinter in the race though: "You have to understand, if it finishes up a hill, it doesn't matter if I lose 30 seconds or 40 minutes. That's a common misconception that people have about losing time. The fact is, you want to save as much energy as possible. You don't have to be there. When it's time though, I'm a professional bike rider. I can get over climbs if I want to, especially with the help of my team."

Asked whether he went 100% in the sprint today and where he is in his form, Cavendish conceded that he gave it his all. This is in stark contrast to last year's Tour de France where he said that he was never pushed to his limit. "Yes, I went 100% in the sprint today. I'm not near the top of form. I'm good for this time of year. It doesn't matter whether I win by three bike lengths or half a meter. If a guy is going 10% better, I'm just going to go 10% faster."

Looking toward the rest of the Tour of California, Cavendish was happy to have gotten a stage win out of the way, "the pressure is off for us at least," but reminded everyone that HTC-Columbia has some other irons in the fire for the rest of the week, "We want to look at the GC as well. Michael Rogers is on the form of his life."

When asked about July's Tour de France and his goals for the rest of the year, Cavendish was confident in what's to come.

"After my problems over the winter, we put everything on the Tour de France and working towards that. I've done some races where I couldn't really sprint earlier this year, and people got confused and thought that I wasn't going well. The truth was, I wasn't there to sprint. When I do the sprint, I win. California is a good appointment to test the form. We're an American team with an American sponsor, so it's always an important race. When it comes down to a bunch sprint, HTC will be on the front for the finish. There are still seven weeks to go before the Tour. To be honest, I was struggling a bit hanging on to my team. That gives me confidence that we'll be flying when it comes time for the Tour de France."

Cavendish has a simple view for his 2010 season: the Tour de France and the World Championships. The Green Jersey is tops on his to do list, and whenever the topic of the Maillot Vert comes forth, the mention of the infamous relegation in last year's Tour is sure to follow.

"There are two goals this year, the Tour de France was pretty much the end of my season last year. This year, we shifted my season back further, partly because of my bad luck in the winter, but also because of the World Championships. When we talked in January about where I want to be at this point, I'm further along than I had hoped. It should be good. We should get the same results at the Tour, or even better. Barring disqualification again, we should get the Green Jersey."

After an underachieving start to the season, it looks like Cavendish is set to return to his dominant ways. He reminds everyone who's listening that he and his team are the best at what they do: "We're consistently winning stages in every race. Up, down, windy, or flat - whatever you want, we'll always there, throughout the year. That's not luck, that's because we're great friends and we have great trust in each other."


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