Fresh from landing the green jersey at the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) has turned his attention his next major goal: winning the world championships road race in Copenhagen in September.
Speaking to L’Équipe, Cavendish stated that his next ambition was to “to become world champion in Copenhagen and then afterwards set myself new objectives.”
“I don’t have limits,” he said. “Too many riders content themselves with winning a race and spend the rest of their time looking behind them.”
With twenty Tour de France stage wins already to his name, 26-year-old Cavendish is on course to break Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 victories. He admitted that he was determined to earn a place in the pantheon of cycling come the end of his career.
“[I want to] write my name in the history of cycling alongside those of Merckx, Hinault, Armstrong,” Cavendish said. “How many names are in there? Twenty? Thirty? I don’t know. But I want mine to be in there some day too. It’s simply a question of standing, of position.”
Although Cavendish added five stages to his tally at the 2011 Tour, he was also frustrated with race judges at times, especially after the intermediate sprint on stage three, when both he and Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) were disqualified by commissaires for coming together in the sprint.
“They’re unjust, incoherent. They often target me,” Cavendish claimed. “Disqualifying me against Hushovd and then not taking any action against Rojas and Petacchi the next day – absurd!”
Along with race judges, journalists have also often been on the receiving end of Cavendish’s ire, and he suggested that his depiction in the media does not always tally with reality.
“They’re human beings, not psychologists,” Cavendish said. “Between two journalists, when one understands me and the other dismisses me, that means there are two different portraits of me in the papers, even though I’m still the same."
“We live in a world where people play a role, put on masks. I know a lot of riders who have two faces, one in the race and another in front of the media. Not me. And I’ve been made to pay for that.”
Cavendish also expressed his belief that, after a difficult battle, cycling was winning its fight against doping. “We’ve taken the time to hunt the cheats, we’ve unmasked them and today cycling is objectively a very clean sport,” he said.
While Cavendish's future and that of his HTC-Highroad team remains unconfirmed, the Manxman was busy keeping his speed sharp in the Netherlands on Tuesday night. After victory on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday, Cavendish outsprinted the Schleck brothers to win the Stiphout criterium.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.