Mark Cavendish opened his season account with a win on the final day of the Tour de San Luis on Sunday. The British sprinter had finished second on two occasions in the Argentine race but after a sterling leadout from his Etixx-Quicktep teammates, claimed the win ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Colombian National Team) and Jakub Mareczko (Italy).
Cavendish has used San Luis to improve his early season form for the last three seasons. The race, he says, also provides the chance for the team to hone their leadout skills.
“San Luis gives one of the good opportunities to practice the train. It’s not really possible to practice it when you’re without other teams. You can do stuff at training camp but it’s not the same as racing, so it’s good to come to the early-season races and kind of get the team working well together,” he told reporters after his win.
“It’s always nice to get the season off to a good start with a win, especially here because of how we’ve ridden as a team with three second places during the week. it wasn’t that we rode bad all week, we just missed it, but we rode well as a team and to finish it off with a victory is really nice.”
Cavendish has a number of targets throughout the season and will once again be focusing on the sprints in the stages races, and of course the Tour de France in July. Despite crashing out of last year’s Tour on the opening stage he still recorded over a dozen victories and that winning mentality remains.
“I’m a professional bike rider so I get to do this instead of going to work in an office or thinking up stupid questions, you know. I’m very, very fortunate to do this. I don’t know any different to winning, I’ve been winning my whole career so I just take that as it is,” he told the press.
“I’ve got a family now, I want my daughter to be proud of me and I want her to be proud of me and this is the best way to do it.”
Calls for reform
Cavendish also voiced his thoughts on the current structure of the sport, adding his weight behind those that have called for a ‘narrative’ structure to the sporting calendar.
“I think there’s more and more and more mountains. There’s races with no sprints anymore and it’s kind of offensive to sprinters to say mountains make a better race. I’ve got a different physical capacity, I’m not lazy.”
“I think there needs to be a restructure in cycling. As a traditionalist, as a fan of the sport, we’ve got some beautiful races, one-day races and Grand Tours but to look at the future stability of cycling there needs to be something that runs throughout the season that people understand, which there isn’t really at the minute. You’ve got races at the same level running parallel. It’s a bit mish-mash ,there’s points systems going everywhere and it needs a bit of a restructure, that’s for sure.”