Cavendish to take on rivals Greipel and Farrar in Tour Down Under
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Cavendish to take on rivals Greipel and Farrar in Tour Down Under

by Shane Stokes at 3:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Manx rider will lead HTC-Highroad team in Australian WorldTour event

Mark CavendishMark Cavendish will have an early rendezvous with his likely rivals for the green jersey in the Tour de France when he makes his Santos Tour Down Under debut in January.

The 25 year old will try to ensure the HTC-Highroad team takes its third overall success in four years, following on from victories of former team-mate Andre Griepel in 2008 and 2010.

Greipel is moving to the Omega Pharma Lotto team and he plus another of cycling’s fastest sprinters, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions), will go head-to-head with Cavendish in the Australian ProTour race.

“It’s great that I’ll be starting my season at the Santos Tour Down Under,” said Cavendish. “I have been to Australia six or seven times and I love going there. After spending time again there recently at World Championships, I’m eager to get back there for some more racing.”

Cavendish has won 15 Tour de France stages in the past three years and scooped the points classification in the recent Vuelta a España. He has picked up a total of four stages in the Spanish Tour and five in the Giro d’Italia. He struggled with poor form early in 2010 but is reportedly in fine shape at this point of the season and is keen to get back racing, and winning, again.

His team manager Rolf Aldag says the HTC Highroad team is determined to leave its mark on the race once again. “The Santos Tour Down Under is obviously a very important race in our calendar,” he explained.

“As a team we enjoy the chance to prove that the hard work during the winter has paid off. The motivation from early wins at Santos Tour Down Under gives the whole team a big boost for the first part of the season. We will start with a very strong roster and we want to target GC and stage wins. We have proven that this is possible and everybody knows of the importance of the race.”

The 2011 edition will begin on January 16th and continue until the 23rd. Previous editions have gone to sprinters who can climb short, steep hills and, providing he is in good shape, Cavendish could contend for the overall classification. He’ll certainly be targeting stage wins, and this is something that excites race director Mike Turtur.

“It’s great for our race and for Australian cycling to welcome Mark Cavendish to Adelaide to participate in the Santos Tour Down Under for the first time,” he said. “Cavendish in undoubtedly one of, if not the best sprinter in the world and our race routes in 2011 will give him plenty of opportunities to show his stuff and gain valuable points at the beginning of the season.”

Aside from his speed, the fact that he has a tense relationship with Greipel will also generate a lot of interest. Greipel was the most successful rider this season in terms of the number of wins, taking 21 in all; Cavendish’s victories were often in bigger events, but he was still ten races off Greipel’s total.

The German rider was blocked from riding the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana by his team, who preferred to back Cavendish.

Both see themselves as the best sprinters in the sport and this, plus the tensions between them, could provide for a very exciting showdown.

“It’s going to be great to watch Cavendish and Greipel go head-to-head in Adelaide,” said Turtur, savouring the thought. “They are superb sprinters and it will be fascinating to see who will come out on top.”

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