Mark Cavendish has made his 2013 intentions clear, stating that the Tour de France will be his primary target of the season.
The 27-year-old was speaking at last night's launch of his new Omega Pharma-QuickStep team and reiterated that stage wins and the green jersey - two of the highest possible accolades in a sprinter's palmares - were his biggest ambitions.
"I want to go back to the Tour de France and compete. Well, compete really! I want to win stages, I want to win the green jersey and I want to come out with a successful team from there," he said.
"There's other guys in the team who can also wins stages, and I think that with the right structure, we can go and be a dominant force, a bit like how it was with HTC."
Cavendish signed for Omega Pharma-Quick Step after just one season of his multi-year deal with Team Sky, where, despite winning three stages of the Tour de France, he was often left to fend for himself as the British team focused on winning the yellow jersey with Bradley Wiggins. By the end of July the team's management was already paving an exit route for Britain's most successful sprinter of all time, and he duly signed for Omega Pharma-Quick Step by the end of the year.
He joins a team which is not only ingrained in one-day day racing, but more importantly, is better equipped and determined to help him succeed. A portion of the team's directors and the riding staff worked with Cavendish during his HTC days, and although team boss Patrick Lefevere would not confirm if Cavendish would be given a dedicated leadout man, he pointed to a team stacked with options for a dedicated leadout train.
Cavendish's Tour de France dreams were illustrated by the fact that he has yet to finalise his exact Tour build up. He will debut in his new team colours next week at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina but all eyes are on July.
"My race aims before the Tour are still to be defined. We're still working stuff out. Obviously I'll be building up to the Tour as usual and there's not too many big objectives in between. I can build up towards the Tour and win things along the way, I'd like to notch up the wins and hopefully by the end of the season we'll be the number one team."
"This is a team that's steeped in the tradition of the sport. Patrick has had this team for 20 years and it has won some of the biggest races in the world and it's had some of the biggest riders in the sport. That's a really big thing for me. It's got some big stars here with Tom Boonen and Tony Martin, Sylvain Chavanel, and to be able to ride alongside these guys.... They dominated the season from the Classics to the worlds. The only thing they lacked last year was in Grand Tour stages and I specialize in those, so it's the perfect fit to come in and then for us to dominate in all areas."
Cavendish was also asked about the dynamic with Boonen. Both riders are team leaders in their own rights and have a degree of overlap in the sense that they can both finish quickly and shine in one-day races. However, both riders were keen to play down any issues in front of the press.
"We're different riders," Cavendish said. "I'm a sprinter, he's a strong man. He can sprint, he can win sprints but this gives us more options with the team and we compliment each other in style."
Questions about Armstrong
Cavendish batted back the majority of the questions directed at him with his usual mix of wit and in some cases brashness. However, when pressed on the Lance Armstrong issue his frustrations boiled over.
"That will run it's course," he said when asked his opinion for the first time.
He followed up the next question with: "There's been reports that he's confessed to doping but I haven't seen any interviews yet, so until then I can't really comment."
However when he was pressed later by television crews, Cavendish lost his cool with his team's press officer: "Can you get him away please. Please get this guy away. He just wants to talk about Lance, **** off."