Cavendish to change Grand Tour tactics in fighting for Vuelta points jersey
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Cavendish to change Grand Tour tactics in fighting for Vuelta points jersey

by Conal Andrews at 2:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Sees intermediate sprints as key to keeping green jersey

Mark CavendishNormally hesitant to go for intermediate sprints in Grand Tours, British rider Mark Cavendish has confirmed that he will adopt a different tactic in this year’s Vuelta a España. The HTC Columbia rider moved into a nine point lead in the green jersey competition yesterday when he won a big bunch sprint into Lleida, and will do what is necessary to ensure that he is standing on the podium in Madrid.

“I want to finish the Vuelta and I’d like to win the green jersey,” he said, making it clear that he has no intention of heading home early. “I usually say that it [points jersey victory] comes from stage wins but here it’s different because the same number of points is allocated to mountain stages and flat stages. So it’s not just a big fight between sprinters. It depends on who wins what in the mountains too. I’ll try to get to Madrid and fight for intermediate sprints.”

Cavendish is targeting the world championships this year and unlike in previous seasons, the worlds is now a week later than usual. In the past the seven-day gap between the final stage of the Vuelta and the worlds has meant that many of the sprinters have headed home early, but the change is expected to see the top guns remain in the race and keep competing hard right up until that Madrid finale.

Now 25 years old, the Manx rider has shown that he is the fastest sprinter by quite some way. His Vuelta performance was, until yesterday, a little understated with the win eluding him each time, but the fifteen stage wins he has amassed thus far in the Tour de France plus five individual Giro stage victories are a stunning feat for one so young.

The key yesterday was getting everything just right. Cavenidish had superb help from his team-mate Matt Goss, who did things so well that a gap had opened up before the sprint even started.

“Gossy is a pure co-sprinter while Mark Renshaw trains as a lead out man,” he said afterwards, when asked to detail how things worked out. “Matt has done an incredible job today. I kind of wanted to give him the stage like I did two years ago at the Giro (to Andre Greipel) because I did nothing for winning today. The team did everything. I was brought to the finish by my team. I’m grateful for that. But I looked behind and other riders were coming across, so I really had to take the win.”

HTC Columbia started things off on a high note when they won the team time trial almost two weeks ago. Many expected Cavendish to top the podium earlier but, for a combination of reasons, it didn’t happen. He seems relaxed about it, though, and said that he didn’t obsess about topping the podium earlier.

“We came here to the Vuelta with a group of young guys and the ambition to get in good shape for the world championship. It would have been nice to win one of the first stages but we bad luck with punctures and I got boxed in,” he explained. “I didn’t fail because of a lack of form. It’s nice to win again but it’s not a relief. I’m happy but not relieved, I don’t think so.

“The Vuelta is a beautiful race. It’s pretty nice to have now won stages at each Grand Tour. Everyone knows the passion I have for these races. I used to watch them as a kid. To stand on the podium is pretty special.”


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