Cavendish happy to stay at Columbia-HTC

Mark Cavendish remains convinced that his current team, Columbia-HTC, is in the best environment for continued sprint success. The 24-year-old says that although he aware of his value to rival squads, he is content with his position at the US-based outfit.

“I'm in the best position at Team Columbia,” he told The Times newspaper. “I'm not looking for a contract. I want to win and I want to be in the best place to do that, and that's Columbia.”

His name had been mentioned in connection with the newly-formed Team Sky, but Cavendish admitted that concrete interest from the British ProTour squad had never materialised. “If Sky's the best team in five years, I'll be at Sky. If RadioShack is the best team, I'll be at RadioShack. I'm going to get paid the same wherever. But there was never a formal offer made to me by Sky.”

Cavendish dominated the sprint scene in 2009, with 23 wins. Those wins included Milano-Sanremo, as well as three individual stage wins in the Giro d'Italia, six stages in the Tour de France, and two stages each in the Tour of Qatar, Tour of California, Driedaagse de Panne, Tour de Suisse, and Tour of Missouri.

The Briton made his name as a sprinter in 2008 with, among others, four Tour de France stage wins. But he cemented his reputation with his stunning win in this year's Milano-Sanremo, and has highlighted that race as an example of why he wants to stay with his current team.

“At Columbia I have a team built around me. That's how we won Milano-Sanremo – we had eight guys riding just for me.”

One of those eight 'guys' was George Hincapie, who worked in his service not only at Milano-Sanremo, but in many other races. Hincapie is leaving the team for BMC Racing Team in 2010. In spite of the American's departure, Cavendish is confident that he will have the support required to retain his position as the peloton's foremost sprinter.

“It's going to be harder to stay there than it was to get there, and George was a big, big part of the wins I had last year. We can't replace him, but we'll get as close as we can. The lead-out won't suffer – it's just going to change.”

Another tie to Hincapie is his friendship with both Cavendish and Lance Armstrong. The latter two “have a similar mindset on things, not just on the bike, but off the bike,” according to Cavendish. “We have the same sense of humour and we get frustrated at some of the same things. We have the same patience threshold.”

Cavendish and Armstrong are also linked by a love for the Tour de France, a race which remains the Manxman's ultimate goal. “The emotions you get from the Tour – I get goose bumps talking about it even now. It's not a job to win at the Tour, it's a dream.”

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