Mark Cavendish refused to put a number on the number of stages he is targeting at this year’s Tour de France but the winner of six stages in 2009 said that he would aim for as many as possible as he targets the green points jersey.
“I’m physically great,” he said at the HTC-Columbia press conference in Rotterdam. “I was good in Switzerland and the preparation has gone well. I’m excited for the racing.”
Asked if comparing his tally of six wins from last year to any success he had this year was fair, he replied: “That’s not a realistic thing to do. Because I won six last year doesn’t mean I have to win six this year. I want to win as much as possible. I want to win 21 stages. I know that’s not realistic but every time we step on a bike the goal is to win.”
During the press conference Cavendish also praised his team several times, calling them ‘diverse’ and ‘in form’, and adding “We want to win a stage, with or without me. We’ll be looking at our first opportunity tomorrow and the first sprint stage on Sunday and then reach Paris with the green jersey if that’s possible too.”
As for his rivals, the Manx missile picked out the usual suspects, including Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions), Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and last year’s green jersey Thor Hushovd (Cervelo). “There are a few great guys here in the sprints. I spoke with Tyler yesterday and he looks incredibly fit and he’ll be a threat. Oscar has been going great this year and obviously Thor can never be counted out.”
Cavendish also paid tribute to the other seven British riders who will race this year’s Tour de France. Bradley Wiggins, Steve Cummings, and Geraint Thomas, David Millar, Jeremy Hunt and Daniel Lloyd will also be in the peloton, making up nearly five per cent of the peloton.
“There are eight guys from the UK and they’re not just riders who will make up the numbers, they’re guys who will have an impact and that’s incredible to see. It’s a great group of guys. Bradley will be exciting to see.”
In Cavendish’s favour as he targets the sprints and green jersey, is the support and experience on hand at his HTC-Columbia team. Although George Hincapie has left a void since moving to BMC, the team can still count on the likes of Bernhard Eisel, Mark Renshaw and Adam Hansen, the latter back at the Tour after missing out in 2009. Cavendish will also have Erik Zabel in his corner too, who will carefully study the key stages and pass on vital advice before the finish.
“He’s a great guy to have, a great guy with the team and probably the most experienced guy in the last generation of cycling. He won the green jersey so many times, so he must have been doing something right and that works with us too. I won a lot of races last year with him. He can tell us one thing and you can have 100 per cent trust,” Cavendish said.