Cycling: 'I'm not fit enough to defend title,' says Cavendish

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The Independent Online

Mark Cavendish has conceded he does not have "the form" to repeat his remarkable Milan-San Remo win of 12 months ago. The 24-year-old from the Isle of Man will line up to defend his title on Saturday but, following off-season dental problems, he is not in nearly the same condition as last year.

"I can't suffer like I used to," Cavendish said. "It's just on that red line of suffering for six kilometres up the Cipressa [one of the race's toughest climbs]. That's that, I can't do it, I haven't got the form."

Twelve months ago, Cavendish had more racing under his belt and had recorded six wins before surprising many to win the Classic race on his debut in an astonishing finish which saw him pip Heinrich Haussler on the line by the narrowest of margins.

This season, the Briton – winner of 10 Tour de France stages in two seasons – is yet to taste victory and he believes the near 188-mile race will be beyond him.

"San Remo is not about climbing, it is about resilience," added Cavendish, who crashed in yesterday's final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy before crossing the line.

Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen won the stage into San Benedetto del Tronto as Stefano Garzelli clinched overall victory.

"You don't have to be a climber to win San Remo, you have to be resilient. It's about suffering. And you can't suffer without training. I can't suffer, that's the thing.

"I was stronger last year because I did a lot more training. I did not do as much training this January. I missed 2,000km, that's a lot."