Dimension Data have lost no faith in Mark Cavendish’s ability to deliver as they continue to prepare for July’s Tour de France. The Manx sprinter has won 30 Tour de France stages during his career and despite a rocky past year due to several crashes and injuries; he remains integral to the team’s Tour de France plans.
Cavendish has won just once this season, a stage at the Dubai Tour in February. He crashed hard at the Abu Dhabi Tour and then crashed out of both Tirreno -Adriatico and Milan-San Remo in March. He returned to racing in late spring and used the Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of California to rebuild his form. He will race the Tour de Slovenie (June 13-17) next week and then the new Adriatica Ionica Race (June 20-24) in Italy as his final preparation before the Tour de France.
“He’s had a lot going on in his life, including becoming a father again,” his long-term director Rolf Aldag told Cyclingnews at the Tour de Suisse.
“It was important to give him space at that time. He then went back to Italy and started training and since then he’s looked good. He’ll do Slovenia and then Adriatica. He looks really good, and to be fair to him I’ve not seen him be so consistently fit this year. He’s kept his motivation, and his spirit high. Even when he was a few kilos more he never let his head go down and he’s trained well.”
The Dimension Data team have had a difficult year owing to several of their high-profile riders suffering from crashes and illnesses. Their season was summed up when Grand Tour debutant Ben O’Connor crashed out of the Giro d’Italia while fighting for a top ten place overall with just two stages to go. Their Tour de France team has a number of spots still up for grabs but Aldag is confident that if Cavendish can arrive at the Tour de France in or close to his top condition he can be highly competitive in the sprint finishes.
“I’m pretty optimistic and that he will get everything together and be there at the Tour. If we have our routine then we know that he can beat everybody,” Aldag said.
“It’s not really about beating them before the Tour, it’s about getting the routine and preparation right and then going to the Tour.”
Cavendish’s leadout for the Tour de France has not yet been confirmed but Aldag acknowledged that while Dimension Data lack the firepower of other teams, they would employ a similar sprint tactic that served so well in 2016, when Cavendish won four stages and spent a day in the yellow jersey.
“Being a track rider gives him a big advantage. He’s also capable of sprinting by himself. As long as you get him into the final, then he’s okay. We might not be doing any drag racing against the other leadouts at the Tour until the final 200 meters, but then that’s hardly going to be a surprise.”
Cyclingnews Films' second production CRESCENDO is available to buy or rent on Vimeo.