Mark Cavendish (Sky) has made his way back to Denmark for the start of the Giro d’Italia in Herning seven months after claiming the world title in Copenhagen. In the meantime, he became a father but acknowledged that his new family situation will not affect his sprinting. The Manx Express targeted six stages to win before he switches his focus to the two big goals of his 2012 season: the Tour de France and the Olympic Games road race.
Cavendish hasn’t won a race since the birth of his first child, a baby girl called Delilah Grace, on April 3. But he maintains that his beginning to the season a successful one with two stage wins at the Tour of Qatar, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico under his belt so far. “Only Tom Boonen has won more by this time of the year as a world champion,” the sprinter from Team Sky noted.
In fact, in recent years, most of the wearers of the rainbow jersey had yet to register a victory by the beginning of May: Paolo Bettini (2008), Alessandro Ballan (2009), Thor Hushovd (2011) had no wins at this point, while Bettini (2007) and Cadel Evans (2010) had one (stage 4 of the Tour of California for Bettini in 2007 and the 2010 Flèche Wallonne for Evans). In 2006, Boonen had thirteen wins including the Tour of Flanders and three stages at Paris-Nice until the post-Classics break. But Oscar Freire, with seven successes including Tirreno-Adriatico plus three stages, did better than Cavendish in 2005.
However, the legend of the curse of the rainbow jersey is not an issue for the Briton, although the issue of his recent paternity arose when Italian reporters reminded him that motorbike pilots commonly say that they drove a bit slower once they become a dad. ‘Cav’ skirted the issue, saying: “I’m more determined and focused. For my job, I have to be away from home anyway.” He promised to race “harder and faster”.
“I expect to win maybe one stage at the Giro,” he announced. “I love this race. On paper, I’ve identified six possible sprints and we have a pretty strong team for the team time trial. I have big ambitions for the first week of racing.”
Diplomatically, Cavendish denied any intention to quit the Giro d’Italia after stage 13, like most of the sprinters intend to do, openly or not. “I’ve planned to stay until the end,” he said. “I never want to stop a race and leave the team.” He stated that Contador’s suspicions that he’d leave before the end were only voiced because of the way that Eurosport had phrased the question.