Racing on the track for the first time since the world championships in 2009, Mark Cavendish (HTC-HighRoad) was the star attraction of the 34th Revolution meeting at the Manchester Velodrome on Saturday evening.
The world road race champion was given a noisy standing ovation as Cavendish, in his rainbow jersey, was introduced to the sell-out, 4,000-strong crowd. Although he lacked a little sharpness, he was in the thick of the racing all night, raising the roof every time he hit the front, especially in the final event of the evening, the scratch race, which saw him score a hugely popular win.
But his return to the boards was a one-off, he insisted: a gesture of support for the Revolution series. Mainly, of course, he is now looking forward to next year, his first with Team Sky. “It’s exciting,” he said of his move to the British squad. “It feels like I’m coming home.”
Cavendish said that his programme for 2012 will be similar to 2009, when he won Milan-San Remo and six stages of the Tour de France. A second victory in La Primavera is one ambition, though he suggested he will not be in peak form so early in the season.
“I said when I won Milan-San Remo in 2009 that that I want to win it in the world champion’s jersey,” said Cavendish. “But it’s going to be a big July with the Tour and the Olympics, so I’ll have a structured year to build and peak for the whole of July.” Of the Olympic road race, he said: “I think with the riders we’ve got we should be confident we can win a gold medal.”
As in 2009 he said he would ride the Giro d’Italia with a view to finishing it -- this year he pulled out after 12 stages.
He also said that he was pleased to finally sign for Sky, after what seemed a long, drawn out saga. "Not really," he said. "I think it was dragging on for everybody else but from past experience I have to make sure every single word in the contract is right. If something happened -- if Dave [Brailsford] gets hit by a bus in a couple of years and someone else takes over, and that's not mentioned in the contract... That's why I wanted to make sure every word in the contract was right."
Cavendish said he would spend most of the winter in Essex and the Isle of Man, with his first training camp with his new team in Majorca in December.
Revolution 34 will be broadcast in the UK on ITV4 on Monday, 7pm.