Mark Cavendish says his main ambition at this week's Tour of Oman will be to help his Dimension Data teammates in the battle for the overall classification. Cavendish is riding the six-day event for the first time since he rode the 2012 edition.
Cavendish started his season last week at the Dubai Tour and opened up his win account with victory on stage 3. Aside from Cavendish, none of his teammates has made the short journey from Dubai to Oman, with climbing the priority and Merhawi Kudus in with a shout of a podium finish. There will be opportunities for the Manxman, however, and he will look to seize upon them.
"Obviously, the race is bookended by sprints so I'll give it a shot and see what I can do. I am here without any lead-out guys," Cavendish said. "I'd like to support the climbers and the GC guys. Merhawi was strong here last year and I'd like to be part of helping him get up there. Obviously, with the sprints, it makes no difference for me to bounce around and be up there for the sprint."
The team will also have Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Natnael Berhane, Nic Dougall, Nic Dlamini and Scott Davies in their arsenal.
The Tour of Oman was not originally on Cavendish's early season race programme. However, with the team short of riders and an opportunity to avoid jet-lag and cold weather, Cavendish put his hand up to remain in the Middle East for a little while longer.
"I was a last-minute addition. I was supposed to do Dubai and then fly home and then come out for Abu Dhabi," he explained. "Then we looked at the stage distances and I'd be doing a similar work-load if I went home. We were also a few riders down in the team so rather than calling up a reserve for another race, I said that I'd stay out and do it. I'm quite happy now, because it's snowing at home."
This season is the last on the initial three-year deal that Cavendish signed with Dimension Data. Only one race into the 2018 season, Cavendish says that penning a new deal is nowhere near the forefront of his mind just yet.
"We're in February, I've done five days racing and there's not a guy here that’s talking about contracts," Cavendish said. "I'm just trying to be good for July and trying to win what I can throughout the year and make sure that I peak for July."
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