Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) has played down his chances of victory ahead of Milan-San Remo. The 2009 race winner developed a stomach virus, as did his lead-out man Mark Renshaw, during a recent trip to South Africa. Days later, he battled through a snow and rain battered Tirreno-Adriatico, which he abandoned ahead of the final time trial to avoid putting any unnecessary strain on his body.
While the illness is well behind him he says that the disruption to his preparation means that he’s not found the form he’d have liked ahead of the Italian classic. “I was really ill. I spent four days in bed,” a subdued Cavendish said. “I don’t feel 100 per cent. I feel better from my illness but I’m not 100 per cent.”
Cavendish is QuickStep’s number one option if the race ends in a bunch sprint, with Michal Kwiatkowski and Zdenek Stybar providing other options as joint leaders alongside the Manxman. As a former victor and one of the most prolific winners of recent years, even a below-par Cavendish is a threat and will be heavily watched by his rivals. However, when asked if he saw himself as a race favourite the answer was short and sweet, “no.”
With two other potential victors within the eight-man line-up there is less pressure on Cavendish. The 29-year-old believes that his teammates can deliver Etixx-QuickStep to triumph on the Via Roma if he’s not able to.
Etixx-QuickStep have got a strong team, we’ve got a lot of bases covered and a lot of options. So we go into tomorrow and we’ll see how the race goes and hopefully we’ll come out with success,” he explained. “As long as we don’t compromise then it is good. I think this particular group of riders complements each other, our style of riding, and there are chances of success at San Remo.