By Shane Stokes in Saint Brieuc, France
With two Giro d'Italia stage wins and multiple professional victories already under his belt, Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) is keen to open his first Tour de France bottle of bubbly. The Manxman fell short 12 months ago due to bad luck but, a year older and more experienced, he's feeling good about his chances this time round.
The 23 year-old Briton was distanced on the tough run in to the finish of stage two but got back on to the bunch, placing 27th. His team-mate Kim Kirchen and Gerald Ciolek were second and third. The parcours of the third stage is flatter, though, and so Cavendish is looking forward to his first real opportunity.
"Tomorrow is a better chance for me, personally," he told reporters after yesterday's stage. "It has a long, flat run-in and that should suit me better. It will give a decent opportunity for a full-on bunch sprint.
"I am feeling really good, actually," he added. "I have a Giro in my legs this year, I am more mature physically and mentally. I came here with less nervousness, but more excitement [than last year]."
The Manxman gave the thumbs up to the revised route of the 2008 Tour, saying that beginning with a road stage is a nice alternative to the usual format. "Without a prologue, it has definitely changed the first week of the Tour," he said. "I think it is a good idea because yesterday was a beautiful stage to get a yellow jersey-wearer on.
"I think it is the right decision for the organisers to do, and it made for a beautiful race at the end," he added. "It was a great start to the Tour."
Prior to the start he had said that he was hoping that the second stage would suit him. This proved not to be the case, and the effort to get back on took the oomph out of his legs.
"It was tougher than I anticipated," he admitted. "I knew that the last kilometres would be tough, but didn't expect they'd be so hard. That is why we didn't go into the stage with a game-plan for sprinting, we were just going to leave it to the end, and you saw that we were strong as a unit again at the end.
"Unfortunately I wasn't strong enough to stay there," continued Cavendish. "I rode hard to get back, but I didn't really need to because we had two guys up there. We didn't win a stage, but we can be happy with second and third, anyway.
"Every chance we have got a chance of winning, we will go for it," he added. "We will take each stage as it comes, but tomorrow should be a decent opportunity to get a full-on bunch sprint."