Cavendish upbeat before Dimension Data debut at Cadel Evans Road Race

Manxman hoping to test his sprint in Australian race

Mark Cavendish is optimistic that he has a chance of victory on his debut in Dimension Data colours at Sunday’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong, Australia.

The British rider has focused on track training during the winter and recently competed in the Hong Kong round of the UCI track World Cup as he pursues a place in the Great Britain team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, but revealed he is on form for his debut in Dimension Data’s new colours. He travelled to Australia from Hong Kong and has been training in Geelong for over a week, even going out for a coffee ride with Cadel Evans.

Many of the riders in action at the Tour Down Under will also ride in Cadel Evans's event but Cavendish is hopeful that he can be competitive on a very similar course to the one he raced on the 2010 world road race championships. He is confident his Dimension Data teammates can help him if the race finishes in a sprint.

““I’m not coming here just to roll around, it’s not like I’m going to sit up and just roll in. I don’t think I’m going to be dropped on the first lap, which gives me hope that I can at least try and win,” Cavendish said in a press conference before celebrating Australia Day with other riders at a special barbeque.

“I think if I’m there in the final then I’m the best shot of anyone of winning but there’s some real strong riders here and some good teams. I saw how everyone was going in the Tour Down Under. Of course If I don’t make it to the finish with the front group then I’m not going to be disheartened but I’m going to try my best to do that anyway.” I think the organisers have really done a well thought-out race to kind of keep it close to the final metres. It could be a breakaway, it could be a sprint, but you won’t know. It’s kind of like Milan-San Remo - you won’t know until the final couple of kilometres. It’s quite exciting that.”

After Cavendish went for a training ride with his new Dimension Data teammates. Cavendish will be part of a solid line-up that also includes Nathan Haas and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, who both competed in the Tour Down Under. Haas finished third in last year’s first edition of the race behind Gianni Meersman and Simon Clarke, after being in the break of eight riders that escaped from the peloton.

“We’ve got a strong group of guys here. I think I’m the only one that hasn’t raced in the last week and I think the guys will be in superb form. I’m looking forward to starting my season with them. I know these roads from training here and for the Geelong Worlds in 2010. It’s great to ride on good roads and enjoy being in Australia, enjoy the coffee and the way of life, and it’s a nice way to start the year.”

“It’s done me good to be here and be able to ride long distances on decent roads because I haven’t done too much endurance this winter; it’s been a lot of quality, I’ve done some five and six hour rides. I’m in good shape, my weight is good, I think the form is there but obviously I haven’t raced yet and I might give you a different opinion after I race.”

After racing in Australia, Cavendish will head to the Middle East for the four-day Dubai Tour in the first week of February, where he will face Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep), Elia Viviani (Team Sky), Andrea Guardini (Astana) and former teammate Matt Goss (OnePro Cycling).

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