By Gregor Brown
Mark Cavendish's narrow win over Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) in last weekend's Milano-Sanremo was due in part to Cavendish's track background. Despite not racing on the boards for the first time European winter since becoming a road professional, the Briton will line up in the Track World Championships this week in Poland.
"The reason I am so fast is because I have the leg speed. I get the leg speed from the track," said Cavendish after his win. He had stated earlier this year that not riding the track in the winter had allowed him to lower his racing weight to under 70kg, although his powerful sprint, displayed in the win on Saturday, is a direct result of his background on the boards.
"You see me here after I win, but you don't see the fine details I put into my training and lifestyle to be able to be here," said the Columbia-Highroad rider after he triumphed in the 298km Classic in Italy.
British Cycling named the 23-year-old in the men's team last week. He races the scratch race on Thursday and the Madison on Saturday. He raced the Olympics after winning four stages in the Tour de France, but was the only team member not to medal in Beijing.
"There is no point in getting to the finishing and not having a sprint. ... I don't benefit financially or in terms of being remembered in cycling from racing on the track. If you look at the fact that it is going to benefit my road career by keeping me fast, then it makes sense."
Cavendish is the youngest winner of the Milano-Sanremo since Eddy Merckx in 1966 and the first British rider to take the title since Tom Simpson in 1964. He is only the fourth man to win in his Sanremo debut, a list that includes Gabriele Colombo in 1996, Merckx and Gaetano Belloni in 1917.