I'm going to the Giro to win stages

Hitting his stride in Turkey, Mark believes Rabobank is adapting

The Tour of Turkey was a last-minute change to the program but it worked out quite well. Originally I had planned to ride Romandie but there were no stages for the sprinters. Turkey was a really good preparation race for the Giro – eight days of reasonably flat roads, good hotels and nice weather. To win a stage there, and a hard stage at that, was a big boost to the confidence.

It was an honour to win on ANZAC Day and nice to win against Matt Goss because we've seen he is one of the most dominant sprinters on a hard stage like that where there's a lot of climbing – he's a specialist. As for the win itself, I was confident but I didn't want to celebrate until I'd been given the green light. I felt I had got the throw a tenth of a second before he did; often it comes down to the rider who can reach just that little bit extra. Although, I will admit it did cross my mind that he had just got his handlebars in front of me so I guess a bit of my old track experience paid off.

To win a stage and then finish third, fourth and fifth – along with dropping off Theo for his two wins has me feeling confident. It shows that I'm competitive and recovering well each day. All important signs when it comes to the Giro.

It has been a tough road to get to that all-important first win but in no way am I wavering from my plan to be Rabobank's top sprinter. Theo's won twice in Turkey and a good ride in Schelderprijs but I think when you come to a race like to the Giro, it's another level.

A few people have asked me about the comments made by Jan Boven in regards to me being the best option to lead out Theo. I'm going to the Giro to win stages. Theo may get a lead out early in the Giro but I believe I have the form and I'm a sprinter that's capable of winning Grand Tour stages. The team has confidence in me and I've said all along that I didn't come over to Rabobank to be a lead out man, I haven't done the work to be a lead out man. My training's changed and it's just unfortunate that leading out is something that does come quite easy to me – if only winning stages was as easy. I just need Mark Renshaw to lead me out. I'm always looking for the next one.

I believe that I have the full support of the team. If you look at my results, I've been consistent. Obviously there is something missing because I'm not winning consistently but I think it's just a matter of the team pulling together. It's been said that Rabobank was a team without a lead out and they were lucky to have Oscar Freire who could go it alone. The current squad has had to learn a lot and it's been difficult but everyone's starting to adapt to it now.

Graeme Brown has really stepped up this season – mentally and physically – as he moves towards being a true lead out rider and I'm trying to teach him everything that I can. He's taken it really well and he's improved each race. He's definitely got the power, but I'm seeing improvement in the way he positions himself and how he uses his power. Brownie has come into the Giro at the last minute and he's got good form so I think he's going to be essential to our efforts.

No one sprinter has been able to dominate across the months of the season so far, it's been about riders targeting specific races. I'm hoping that with my win in Turkey and coming into the Giro, my time is now.

In the first two weeks we'll have a lot of opportunities and that's where my priorities will lie. There is another good stage for me in the third week, and I am going to try and go there but there are still bigger objectives ahead in July, and I don't want to compromise my form. You never know how the Giro will pan out.

Of course, there is a showdown with another of my old teammates, Mark Cavendish on the cards and it's always great to race against him. I'm curious to see how he will be going. He's just had a little daughter and there's a lot going on at home, but I know him and I know that he'll turn up with the ambition to win five stages because that's how Cav works. As I've said all along, he's beatable. It wouldn't surprise me if he is beaten in the Giro. It's not the most important race for him but I think he'll still get a few wins under his belt.


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