Mark Cavendish arrived back at the Dimension Data team bus after his teammates, following the opening 22km team time trial stage at Tirreno-Adriatico. Despite the African team finishing 15th, more than a minute slower that eventual winner's BMC, the Manxman made an effort to congratulate each of his teammates on their performance.
He had not seen some of his them since the pre-season training camp but seemed happy to be back in his white Dimension Data jersey, after the emotions and effort of riding on the track at the recent World Championships. On Sunday, he celebrated winning a world title in the Madison with Bradley Wiggins, but he is already focused on his spring road racing campaign.
"It's just back to the day job really," Cavendish said with blunt pragmatism. "I have a team to work for here, a great set of sponsors with Dimension Data and Deloitte. I've got to get back to the job of representing them. I'm super happy to be back. It's going good with the group of guys here.
"It was no problem (returning to road racing); I've been training on the road. It was only 22km. We'll see how the next days go.
"I actually didn't feel comfortable at all. We were going pretty fast. I'm happy with that; the team rode well as a unit. Considering that the first time I saw my TT bike was yesterday, we haven't had any training in the TTT, it's all right. We’ll see how the rest of the race goes."
Stage two, to Pomerance, includes a late climb that is expected to split the peloton and distance the sprinters. Stage three, to Montalto di Castro, is far more likely to finish in a sprint, but Cavendish suggested that the sprinters will have to fight for any chance of success during this year's Tirreno-Adriatico.
"All the sprints are uphill this week, but we will see how it goes," he said.
"We have a great team for all the stages really. We had a good team for the TTT, but I don't think we could've got much more out of it today. And we have good riders for those short uphill finishes and for the mountains. Dimension Data is looking to be at the forefront of the race the whole week."
Questions about Olympic selection
Cavendish left the London velodrome as a world champion but also with questions remaining about if he will be selected for the five-rider Great Britain team pursuit squad and Omnium for the Rio Olympic Games.
The final selection for Rio depends on multiple factors, many of which are out of Cavendish's control. As a result, he is not keen to spark debate about if he will be selected or if he has to skip the final week of the Tour de France to be part of the track squad. Dimension Data is keen to play down any contrast with the Great Britain track team management.
A first step will be a formal debrief with the Great Britain track coaches after Milan-San Remo later in March.
"I'll see how the next couple of weeks go with Tirreno this week and see how my form gets out now. Then hopefully it's a good little Classics campaign for me," Cavendish said, side stepping questions about eventual selection before team staff moved him away from the media.
"I'm really just looking forward to this week in Italy…"
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