Fresh from success at his return to the track at Revolution in Manchester over the weekend, British world road race champion and Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish has been digesting the news that he is the current favourite with bookmakers for the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award and has also revealed his plans for next season.
Cavendish is generally available at odds of 6/5 to win the coveted end-of-year BBC award, which is decided by a public vote - shorter in the market than the likes of Open Champion Darren Clarke and 5,000m world champion Mo Farah. He stated that his position as favourite shows just how much the sport of cycling has entered the national consciousness in recent years.
“Who'd have thought that cycling would be mainstream a few years ago?” Cavendish told the Telegraph. “That a cyclist who hadn't won the Olympics would be in the running for Sports Personality? Even just talking about it just shows how big cycling is now. I’ve had brilliant years but this one especially so I think. I’m quite excited about it [Sports Personality] and am hopeful of making the podium.”
He will aim to follow in the footsteps of Tom Simpson, who won the award in 1965 following his world championships victory in San Sebastian. The only other cyclist to be named Sports Personality of the Year was Chris Hoy, who triumphed in 2008, the year of his three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.
Cavendish revealed that he is looking forward to his winter training more so than he has in recent years, and that he and his coach Rod Ellingworth have mapped out an ambitious schedule of racing for 2012, the centrepieces of which will be the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics. But away from those events he’s determined to win the overall points classification at the Giro d’Italia, which would put him in select and exalted company as a winner of the points classifications at all three grand tours, and Gent-Wevelgem in April.
The 26-year-old also told the Guardian that his main early season target is another victory in Milan-San Remo, which will enable him to fulfil one of his long-standing ambitions. “I said when I first won it [in 2009] that I wanted to win it in the world champion’s jersey. I’d just need to be on good form. I’ll be three years older than last time and I know I’ll be with the best team to do it.”