Mark Cavendish had hoped to win the Tour de France’s fabled yellow jersey for the first time in his career 12 months ago in his mother’s hometown of Harrogate, but his desires were dashed rather spectacularly when he suffered a separated shoulder which ended his race and required surgery.
Now, the 30-year-old Etixx-QuickStep sprinter is gearing up for this year’s Tour, which begins on Saturday in Utrecht in the Netherlands, aiming to add to a tally of 25 stage wins which places him third behind Eddy Merckx’s record of 34. Bernard Hinault lies second with 28, meaning Cavendish, starting his ninth Tour, could overtake the Frenchman this year. “I normally base my season around being good in July, so I’ve done everything right,” said the Manxman.
Marcel Kittel, who won the opening stage in Harrogate last year, was not selected for this year’s Tour due to illness but Cavendish has numerous other rivals in the frantic sprint finishes and will hope to show his durability.
Cavendish showed his versatility and race craft in placing second to fellow Manxman Pete Kennaugh in Sunday’s British Championships road race in Lincoln. The pair are two of 10 British riders competing in this year’s Tour, the most since 1955.
“I had a good ride on Sunday – that was my last hit-out and I felt good,” added Cavendish. “The nationals were all right. It’s not often I get to race. Sprinters are kind of seen as ‘you only do 200metres at the end of a ride’ but it’s an ignoramus that’s going to think that. I get paid a lot of money to be a sprinter and I have to win bike races.”
Alberto Contador will cement his status as the best grand tour rider of the modern era if he emerges as the winner of this year’s race.
The Spaniard is looking to achieve the Giro d’Italia-Tour double for the first time since the late Marco Pantani in 1998, but the competition has never been fiercer for the seven-time grand tour champion, who will retire at the end of next year.
Britain’s Chris Froome, the 2013 champion, and Nairo Quintana, who hopes to become the first Colombian to win the Tour, both look fresh, while defending champion Vincenzo Nibali will also be in the mix on a treacherous course.
British Cycling has announced it will end its association with Sky after next year’s Rio Olympics. The decision to end the seven-year partnership was described as amicable by the British Cycling chief executive, Ian Drake, who said: “British Cycling and Sky will part with great mutual affection, having achieved amazing things together. The last 10 years have been brilliant for our sport.”
British Cycling joined forces with the broadcaster in 2008 to help raise the sport’s profile and has since seen cycling reach new heights of success, with more than 1.7m people participating on a regular basis. During the association, Great Britain won a combined total of 16 gold, 11 silver and seven bronze medals at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Mark Cavendish was speaking at the launch of Six Day London, a new cycling event which takes place on 18-23 October. To buy tickets and for more information visit www.sixday.comReuse content