Omega Pharma-Quickstep will try for opening stage sprint in Harrogate
Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Mark Cavendish is remaining quiet on his prospects for this year's Tour de France. It's the second time in his career that the race will begin in Great Britain and there is the added bonus of possibly winning the yellow jersey in his mother's hometown of Harrogate at the stage 1 finish. However, the Manx Missile shied away from questions about taking glory on the opening day.
"I'd like to wear yellow in my career, but the Tour de France is the Tour de France, stages are hard to come by in your whole career, let alone every year," he told the amassed media in Leeds.
"The first day of the Tour de France is always nervous. There's a lot of teams vying for it. It could be a sprint, a group could get away. Omega Pharma-QuickStep have a very strong team and we will try for a sprint and try to win it, but there are 200 bike riders here trying to wear yellow."
Cavendish refused to be drawn on his rivalry with Kittel, who he is yet to beat in a flat-out sprint. Last year, he found himself bettered by Kittel for total stage victories, with the German taking four and ending Cavendish's run on the Champs Élysées. The team have since made a number of crucial tweaks to his lead-out train, taking on Alessandro Petacchi and former lead-out man Mark Renshaw in the past 12 months. It has faltered at time during the season, but Cavendish remains confident in himself and the team.
"I have really good condition for the Tour de France. A lot of the guys got sick at the Tour de Suisse, but hopefully I am over that," he said. "The Omega Pharma-QuickStep squad is very strong this year and it was a hard selection for the Tour de France. There is nearly 20 guys who could come and do a successful Tour de France as a unit. The management selected the guys that we have here and I think that it is a very formidable line-up."
That formidable line-up includes world time trial champion Tony Martin, 2014 Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra and Liège-Bastogne-Liège podium finisher Michal Kwiatkowski. Between the four riders, the team are expected to be a dominant force throughout the whole race, with some speculating that it is the strongest team that the Belgian squad have put up for the Tour de France.
One man missing from the Tour de France team this year is the directeur sportif Brian Holm. The Danish former-rider was charged with sexual offences, but has been recently acquitted. Holm has been integral to Cavendish's career – as a part of the HTC Highroad and Omega Pharma-QuickStep teams.
"I am very happy (that he has been let off). I hope that he can come and join us at the Tour de France. I miss him and for sure he's a massive benefit for the team. I look forward to seeing him and hopefully his family is ok."
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