Short stage races a possible future target
Mark Cavendish (Sky) returns to competitive action for the first time since the London 2012 Olympics road race when he lines up for stage 1 of the Tour of Denmark in Randers on Wednesday.
The world champion, whose future at Team Sky has been the subject of considerable speculation in recent weeks, is set to lock horns with Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Oscar Freire (Katusha) in a race that could feature up to four bunch finishes.
“Boonen didn’t ride the Tour de France, so I don’t know what to expect of him, but I think he will be the toughest competitor,” Cavendish told Ekstra Bladet.
Cavendish took the first stage race victory of his career at the Ster ZLM Toer in June, but in spite of the flat parcours, he ruled out a repeat performance in Denmark. “This year, the GC is totally ruled out because I’m not in good enough shape,” he said. “We’re riding for Lars-Petter Nordhaug and I’m hoping to win stages.”
Nonetheless, Cavendish admitted that his appetite to test himself in short, flat stage races had been whetted by his June success.
“I overcame a big obstacle when I won the Ster ZLM Toer, and now I know I can win [races like this],” he said. “It could be a goal for me in the future. Not the big races, but shorter stage races like the Tour of Denmark and Tour of Britain, where there are no really big mountains.”
For now, Cavendish is pleased simply to return to Denmark, scene of his world championship victory last September. In addition, one of his earliest professional victories came in his last appearance in the Tour of Denmark, in 2007.
“I’ve not raced the Tour of Denmark since 2007 when I won the stage to Frederiksberg and I’m really looking forward to racing in Denmark again,” he said. “I won the Worlds in Copenhagen last year and I think that Denmark is one of the coolest countries in the world. I knew nothing about Denmark before I met Brian Holm, who is one of my very best friends.”
Holm's Omega Pharma-QuickStep team is one of a number of squads reported to be interested in acquiring Cavendish should he part company with Sky at the end of the season.
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