Mark Cavendish was at the 2011 Tour de France presentation in Paris on Monday and looked on as six stages perfectly suited to his fast sprint finish were unveiled.
The Manx Missile has won 15 stages in the last three editions of the Tour de France and will be hoping to win the green jersey in 2011. However with the Tour organisers changing the points system for next year’s race, he was unsure how next year’s race would unfold.
“Initially, I’d say there are six potential stages but less than last year,” Cavendish told Cyclingnews.
As for the rule changes, Cavendish said: “We’ve got to sit down and evaluate it properly. I’ve only known about the changes for ten minutes. We’ll sit down and look at it and see if it’s good or bad. It might be brilliant, it might be awful.”
Changes from ASO mean that stage victories will carry 45 points, an increase from 40. However the biggest change regards the intermediate sprints. In previous years, six, four and two points were awarded at three intermediate sprints per stage. In 2011 there will be just one intermediate sprint per stage with 20 points going to the winner and 15 riders also picking up points on a sliding scale.
“I can’t go for yellow, white or the polka dot, so I think I’ll go for the green,” Cavendish said.
HTC directeur sportif, Alan Peiper, was also in Paris for the route announcement. He agreed with Cavendish on the severity of the 2011 route but believed that the HTC team would be fully united in working for their top sprinter.
“The first eight days look like something we have to focus on. The first stage, if Cavendish can be close, with the team time trial the next day, it’s not a given that we’ll win. But if we can do a good result then possible he can have the yellow jersey.”
As for the points classification changes, Peiper was aware how significant they could be for Cavendish’s bid for the green jersey.
“The 20 points for intermediate sprints will change things because in the past you had six for them and you had to win three to get 18 now it’s just one sprint and 20 points. That’s half a stage win,” he said.
“We’ll put all nine men behind Cav and take it day-by-day. You have to see who gets away in a breakaway, if it’s four guys that are down on GC it could be advantageous for them to take the sprint. It’s going to be interesting but whether it’s to our advantage remains to be seen.”