Erik Zabel says Cavendish could match his points jersey tally
Mark Cavendish's goal is to arrive for the first time at the Tour de France's final stage in Paris and not the green sprinters' jersey, according to Columbia-HTC technical advisor Erik Zabel.
Cavendish won his third stage of this year's Tour de France on Tuesday in Issoudun. In doing so the Manxman moved up to second in the points classification behind Norweigian, Thor Hushovd. Hushoved finished second to Cavendish in the stage ten finish.
"It is not impossible for him to win, but the goal is to arrive in Paris. If he can finish in the top there in the points classification then the green jersey becomes the goal for 2010," Zabel told Cyclingnews, prior to stage ten.
German Zabel won 12 stages and six times the green points jersey at the Tour de France. He joined Columbia-HTC as a technical advisor this year and mentored Cavendish prior to his Milano-San Remo win.
Cavendish is racing his third Tour de France. He abandoned shortly after the start of the 2007 edition, but last year he won four stages prior to abandoning on stage fourteen.
Zabel thinks he could someday equal his six green jerseys. "He is still 24, I won my first when I was 26. Why not?"
Cavendish seems capable of winning more than four stages this year. He developed over the winter and now climbs with less effort.
"I like that he is much more complete than two years ago. He is better now on the uphills and that gives him much more options to win. Over the winter, he focused especially on the Milano-Sanremo. He trained specifically at home, on the Isle of Man, on climbs that were similar to the Cipressa and Poggio."
Cavendish was the youngest rider since Eddy Merckx when he won Italy's Milano-San Remo one-day race in March. Zabel won the race four times in his career.
After Tuesday's finish in Issoudun there are four other stages suited to sprints remaining in this year's Tour de France, including the traditional finale on the Champs-Élysées on July 26.
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