Mark Cavendish eyes early yellow on Tour de France


Click to follow
The Independent Online

For the second year running, a British rider is dreaming of wearing the yellow jersey in Paris at the end of the Tour de France. But next Saturday another, Mark Cavendish, seeks to become the first rider in this year's race to take the maillot jaune – an opportunity last available to sprinters like Cavendish in the 1966 Tour.

"I'd like to wear the yellow jersey after the first stage in Corsica. It's the only one of the three grand tours where I haven't worn the leader's jersey," Cavendish, said, though as he told The Independent earlier this year: "Every man and his dog will want to win that stage."

For the last 47 years, it has been impossible for a sprinter like Cavendish to wear yellow so early. Instead that honour has gone to the winner of the standard fare for the opening day's racing, either prologues – short, punchy time-trials won by specialists like Britain's Chris Boardman three times – or the very occasional uphill finish like the one in 2007. But this year, a flat 212km run from Porto Vecchia to Bastia gives the sprinters their chance again.

And the omens could hardly be better. With 12 wins to date, this is already Cavendish's best season since 2009 – his "dream year" when he had 13 wins, including the major Milan-San Remo Classic. And today may well see Cavendish add another key victory to his collection: his first title of National Champion in the road race in Glasgow's city centre.

Cavendish has 23 lifetime stage wins, putting him fourth on the all-time list headed by Eddie Merckx (34), five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault (28) and France's Andre LeDucq (25). If Cavendish ups his tally to 24, perhaps clad in the red, white and blue of national champion should he win in Glasgow today, his Tour will be deemed a success after just one day.