Mark Cavendish watched the presentation of the 2017 Tour de France route from the Middle East, where he is preparing to race the Abu Dhabi Tour this week, and saw ample opportunity to add to his tally of Tour stage wins over the three weeks next July.
Speaking to Cyclingnews at the UCI Gala in Abu Dhabi, Cavendish said the Tour route is great: "It's either mountainous or sprints, which is kind of how it used to be. It definitely gives not just myself but the whole team some opportunities throughout the 21 days."
Cavendish's four stage wins in this year's Tour de France put him four short of equalling Eddy Merckx's record of 34 career wins. He then switched his focus to the track for the Olympic Games, but the Manxman came up short in the Omnium in Rio, losing out to Elia Viviani. Once he returned to the road he found himself one pedal stroke short of a second rainbow jersey in Doha last week.
"At least one gold medal would have been nice between the Olympics and Worlds, but in the end I was beaten by worthy champions," Cavendish said.
"Elia Viviani is the best omnium rider in the world, and Peter Sagan is Peter Sagan. You can't complain about who I was beaten by. Definitely Worlds was quite close. I feel sick - not sick, but some disappointment when I see the jersey. I was that close in what is probably my last chance of winning it. It's bike riding. It's not like I lost to anyone else."
Cavendish began his year well with the overall victory in the Tour of Qatar and a second place in the Scheldeprijs. He even managed to finish Paris-Roubaix for the first time, in 30th place. A stage win in the Tour of California and his Tour de France stage wins all added up to make the year his most successful since 2013, when he won four stages of the Giro d'Italia and two in the Tour.
"I could have ended up with nothing since I set some big objectives like that," Cavendish admitted. "I approached it with a strategy. I didn't have pressure going into every race to win. I had targets and I could build up how I wanted to and go for them."
But splitting his time between the road and the track, and racing a packed season took its toll on him psychologically and physically, he said. "I knew I could do it. I know a lot of detractors who didn't think I could do it, but I've done a lot in my career. I'm not a bad bike rider.
"I can be satisfied, but I like to win everything. It's never going to be 100%, unless I won everything - even if I did I would still probably find fault with it. I'm loving my riding, and my team Dimension Data and Qhubeka, what the team is about. It's really put more meaning into my riding."
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