Mark Cavendish, Britain's world champion sprinter, may not be as prominent this year as he has been in the last four Tours de France. He admitted yesterday that his Team Sky colleague Bradley Wiggins's quest to be the first British winner will take absolute priority.
"I'm going to experience something different than I ever have before," Cavendish said.
"I've never gone in with real ambitions of winning the Tour de France in the team. That's an exciting prospect."
Cavendish's main focus this year will be Olympic gold in London, which means he is unlikely to defend the Tour de France green jersey, for the leading points scorer, which he won last year. A two-pronged attack for the yellow and green jerseys is off the agenda for Sky.
Cavendish said: "Ideally we'd win both, but in any year it's more important to win yellow than green. It's massive, not just the first British winner, but any British winner. To be part of that, it's pretty special."
After a publicised fall-out after the last Olympics in Beijing, Cavendish and Wiggins have returned to being close friends.
Wiggins will have the support of five riders – Chris Froome, Michael Rogers, Richie Porte, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Christian Knees – while Cavendish will be accompanied by Bernhard Eisel. Edvald Boasson Hagen will have split duties. The Austrian Eisel signed from HTC-Highroad alongside Cavendish last October and their relationship has been likened to that of a husband and wife. Cavendish said: "I want to say I'm the man but we play by my rules, so I'm probably the woman."
Chris Boardman, one of the few Britons to have worn the fabled maillot jaune, following prologue successes in 1994, 1997 and 1998, yesterday backed Wiggins to become the fifth Briton to don the Tour leader's yellow jersey, possibly even on Saturday in the country of his birth. Wiggins, who was born in Ghent in Belgium, crashed out of last year's race with a broken collarbone but starts in Liège highly fancied to become the first British winner.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he did take the prologue," Boardman said. "I think you just take it [the yellow jersey] when you can get it. You shouldn't ride any differently after the prologue, you either defend or you don't defend."
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