Cavendish backs Boasson Hagen ahead of Milan-San Remo

Mark Cavendish has pointed to his Dimension Data teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen as a contender for victory at Milan-San Remo, but the 2009 winner was less emphatic about his own prospects in Saturday’s race.

“Anyone who starts hopes for a good result. I'll see how it goes,” Cavendish told reporters in San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday following the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

“With Edvald we have a strong contender. The team hasn’t been selected yet, but from the options we got, we will have a very strong team. This team won the race a few years ago [through Gerald Ciolek in 2013 – ed.] I know if we can try to win it this year, it won't be through any form of luck, it will be because we have a strong team.

“I don't know my form, I've come off the track. This [Tirreno-Adriatico] is the first race back for me, but we have a strong team,” he said.

Since winning Milan-San Remo on his first attempt in 2009, when he overhauled Heinrich Haussler in the sprint on the Lungomare Italo Calvino, Cavendish has finished in the front group on one other occasion, when he placed 5th behind Alexander Kristoff in 2014.

“There's something different that happens every year. You never know the how the outcome will be. You have to go in and work with what you’ve got, and hopefully you have some luck on your side,” he said.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) all underlined their pre-Milan-San Remo form at Tirreno-Adriatico, and will likely look to attack in the finale, but Cavendish said that the race was never predictable.

“You can really never tell with Milan-San Remo, that's the whole beauty of it. It doesn't matter which teams and riders are there, you never know until the last kilometre what the outcome will be, whether it's going to be a break or a bigger group for a sprint. The nature of San Remo, you are always keep guessing until the last kilometre.”

Winner of the Tour of Qatar in February, Cavendish went on to land gold in the Madison at this month’s Track World Championships in London before returning to the road at Tirreno-Adriatico. The Manxman has split his time between the road and the track so far this season as he bids to compete in the omnium at the Rio 2016 Olympics in August.

Asked if Tirreno-Adriatico had served its purpose in preparing him for his next block of road racing, Cavendish said: “I guess so, I just came here straight after the Track Worlds. It was the case of the first race back, and I didn't know how my sensations would be.”

Sprint opportunities were at a premium at this edition of Tirreno-Adriatico, but Cavendish showed himself by working for Boasson Hagen ahead of the uphill sprint at Montalto di Castro on stage 3, while teammate Steve Cummings claimed a canny win for Dimension Data the next day in Foligno. “It's been all right. We were up there the other day with Edvald and then with Steve's amazing stage win, it's been quite a nice week,” Cavendish said.

Cavendish will travel home for the three days after Tirreno-Adriatico, returning to Italy on Friday ahead of Milan-San Remo. The Manxman showed a flash of humour, too, when asked to sum up the beauty of Milan-San Remo. “You can go and look at every single interview I've done about Milano-Sanremo since I started doing Milan-San Remo. It’s just regurgitating the same shit now really!”

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