After a year’s hiatus at the Tour of California, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) returns to his beloved Giro d’Italia, and the Manxman has set himself the intermediate target of taking one stage victory.
“At a Grand Tour, one win constitutes success,” Cavendish said on the eve of the race. “If you go away without a win you’ve failed in my opinion, but it’s a Grand Tour, so you’ve got to be happy with one win.”
Faced with such an exacting Giro route, Cavendish is well aware that opportunities for the sprinters will be limited, but he estimates that there may be five bunch sprints in the opening twelve days of the race.
“We’ll try for every win we can,” he explained. “I’ll try for five individual stages. We’ll try for the team trial. We’ll try for 21 stages, but realistically I’d be happy with one stage.”
With so many mountains packed into the second half of the race, the top sprinters are expected to leave the race at Ravenna in order to save their energy. Cavendish said that he would assess the situation according to the circumstances of the race.
“After Ravenna, there are no more sprints but I never go into a race saying ‘I will stop here,’” he said. “Maybe I’m holding the points jersey then and I can’t stop, so we’ll see. It is hard after that, and I don’t want to kill myself to finish here. If I kill myself to get to Milan then the rest of my season is finished. But if I’m good form, then there’s no reason why not.”
While Cavendish arrives at the Giro with just two wins to his name, he declared himself pleased with his spring to date, and believes that it is unrealistic for him to repeat his exploits of 2009 every season.
“I’m satisfied, I won a semi-classic at Scheldeprijs, and I had bad luck at Gent-Wevelgem,” Cavendish said. “At Milan-San Remo, things didn’t go my way. I was behind the crash. I wasn’t the only one who lost out, but it worked out in favour of our team.
“2009, winning San Remo and everything else I won that spring, that’s not my normal year – that was an exceptional year.”