According to Mark Cavendish there are six potential sprint stages up for grabs in the 2016 Tour de France but, along with the chance to add to his stage win tally of 26, the British rider is eager to head into the race with his new team MTN-Qhubeka.
Cavendish signed for the African squad last month after three seasons with Etixx-QuickStep and 2016 will see the former world champion embark on a new phase in his career. The signing was a coup for the team – set to be known as Team Dimension Data next season – who have a marquee signing to add their ranks.
"I'm so excited about MTN and this new adventure," Cavendish told the press after the 2016 Tour de France route presentation in Paris on Tuesday.
"You saw what they did this year, they captured the race and public. To go and be part of that African adventure is super exciting. It's a great group of guys and some of the biggest talents in cycling. To be able to that into 21 days of racing, whether it's winning or racing the race, it's going to be very exciting."
Cavendish has not been the prolific Tour de France stage winner of old in recent years but he remains one of the top sprinters in the peloton and captured over a dozen wins in 2015. One of those came in the Tour de France but the initial impression from the 2016 route is that there will be more chances for the fast-men next year.
"It's a hard Tour de France. It gets harder and harder but that's bike racing," he said.
"It lends more sprint opportunities than 2015 but then the other days there's going to be a grupetto forming pretty early on and suffering. Even the time trials normally, you can try and, not take a rest day, but try and ride as close to the time limit as possible and ease back a bit but these time trials don't lend themselves to doing that. I'm talking from a pure sprinter's perspective. I'm never going to look at it as a GC guy. It's going to be a difficult three weeks.”
When asked for a figure on the potential chances he, Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel and the other sprinters will have to work with, Cavendish replied: "There are six stages.
"That's less than there used to be but you never know. I thought that there were more this year but then you get the actual profiles around six weeks before the race and then it completely changes the format. We'll see later on. There are roughly six stages."
Cavendish has yet to link up for a camp with his new team but that will come during a winter of preparation and training. Any thoughts that the British rider would bulldoze his way into his new team and demand that his new squad should work for him were quickly dispelled in Paris, with Cavendish keen to stress that he was joining the team to be part of something new and that he was buying into their philosophy and mentality, and not the other way around.
When asked about how the team would split their ambitions between him and the other riders on the team at next year's Tour," he said: "I've definitely not gone there with this vision of the whole team being built around me. That’s absolutely not the case. I want to be part of what makes that team so special. They're changing lives through bicycles and that's a big thing and it's why I wanted to be involved."
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