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"I want to win things in the build-up - and I want to do well at the whole Tour - but if there's one day I had to pick it would be that first stage in Yorkshire,"

Photo: Sirotti








21.12.2013 @ 10:00 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has one big goal in 2014: to take the yellow jersey on the first day of the Tour de France, in Yorkshire, northern England. In an interview with the BBC, the Manx Missile looked back on a year where his rivals arguably challenged him more than he has been since the beginning of his career, but maintains that his team will be able to return him to his position as the World’s number one sprinter once again.


“One thing we've got to talk about is the Giro d’Italia,” Cavendish said. “I won five stages and the red jersey - a sprinter hasn't done that for ages.”


His two-stage haul at the Tour de France was Cavendish’s lowest return since he drew a blank in his truncated debut in 2007. 


Argos-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel was the man to steal the former World champion’s crown as the Tour’s sprint king, taking four stages, and Cavendish recognizes that he is a very worthy rival.

"Kittel is good," Cavendish stressed. "He's not just had a good year, he's good." 


"But at his age [25] I was winning five, so I'm not that worried," he added. "I know the problems we had this year, so I'm not stressed. But it was the first time I felt really threatened, so I know I can't take things for granted anymore. I'm positive we'll dominate again.”


Much of Cavendish’s troubles arose from his newly formed Omega Pharma-Quick Step sprint train struggling to perfect their art. However, another problem was that he had ridden around the whole of one of the toughest Giro d’Italias for years.


"Everybody who rode the Giro, let alone finished it, didn't do well at the Tour: its severity, the weather, the terrain, it killed us," he explained. "So if I do [the Giro] this year, there's only a small chance of me finishing. I don't like not finishing races but I can't risk hurting my chances of getting the yellow."

To take the yellow jersey, in a race that still eschews time bonuses at the stage finishes, Cavendish will have to win one of the early stages; realistically, this would have to be the opening stage between Leeds and Harrogate. The Manxman wants a winning season, however, but to take the yellow jersey in his mother’s hometown will certainly be his biggest target.

"I want to win things in the build-up - and I want to do well at the whole Tour - but if there's one day I had to pick it would be that first stage in Yorkshire," he explained.


His lead out train for 2014 is much improved, with the late season signing of Alessandro Petacchi who proved his worth at the Tour of Britain. Mark Renshaw, Cav’s chief lead out man at HTC has also been signed from Belkin and many people expect Renshaw to put Cav back where he belongs: the front of the peloton.


Combine those two with Gert Steegmans and Matteo Trentin, then OPQS have a fearsome lead out and Kittel, Greipel and co. will have to do their very best to beat the Manx Missile in 2014, especially on home soil.




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