Mark Cavendish’s ambitions for the 2016 season are ambitious, there is no doubt about it, and the opinions of some of his competitors have reflected that. Fellow track riders Bradley Wiggins and Elia Viviani have both said that the Manxman is biting off more than he can chew as he aims for success in the Tour de France, Olympic Games and the World Championships.
Cavendish’s challenges are made tougher by the alternating disciplines, but his new team manager at Dimension Data Doug Ryder believes the sprinter will be able to handle it. “It’s always difficult, especially with the disciplines and some of the focuses that he has. It’s not only endurance he requires but incredible speed, and it takes a special individual to do that,” Ryder told Cyclingnews.
“He has to look at the dates and the timing and what he needs to do but doing what he’s trying to do is not easy for sure. Looking at him and how positive his outlook is, that’s half of the battle won. If you believe that you can do something and it is possible, then it is possible. He’s got such a strong mind, and he’s so willing to give it a go that it is half the battle won.”
Cavendish has been moving between his targets on the track and road already this season. He kicked things off with the Revolution Series and the final round of the World Cup in Hong Kong, before beginning his road campaign at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. He is down to ride the Track World Championships at the start of next month, although he has not officially made the call on whether or not he will be present. Ryder kept quiet on whether his star sprinter would be in London but he’s confident that things will work out.
“I think he’s experienced enough to know what he needs to do and what his body wants,” said Ryder. “British Cycling are incredibly smart people who have done this before. I know Heiko [Salzwedel] well and Shane [Sutton – British Cycling’s head coach], and I know that they will be advising him in the right way because it is important for them. They look at his data and his numbers and will know what he needs to do. Those guys have said it is complicated, and it is for sure, but if Cavendish really wants to give it a go then I wouldn’t want to stand in his way. He is pretty determined, incredibly determined and that’s what we love about him. I haven’t met many guys like him.”
Cavendish’s form on the road has gradually been building over the past weeks at the Dubai Tour and Tour of Qatar. He came off second best to Marcel Kittel in Dubai but landed a stage win and a the overall victory in Qatar, although the latter came at the misfortune of his teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen.
“Sometimes it takes teams a long time to gel together. I’m super happy for Mark because I think that coming second to Kittel with the relationship that those two have, in terms of the team swap-shop, was interesting. But he’s super pumped and happy, and he’s very happy with the team and everything around,” Ryder explained. “He’s making a huge impact on our team not just on the bike but off it too. He has lifted the whole team.”
The Tour of Qatar was a resounding success for the Dimension Data team, despite the unfortunate puncture for Boasson Hagen, and Ryder is happy with the way things are going. Recently, they added to their success with Jaco Venter’s victory in the South African national road race. There have been some road bumps in the early part of the season, namely Bernard Eisel breaking his collarbone in a crash during the Dubai Tour. The Austrian went under the knife last Wednesday and is training on the home trainer for the first time following the accident. Eisel will be key for their next big target of the Classics, and the expectation is that he will be able to return towards the end of next month.
“We want Bernie back, and if you look at it, he should be back for the middle to end of March. He won’t be back for Milan-San Remo but the other races after that I’m sure he’ll be back for, which will be important,” Ryder told Cyclingnews. “We’re looking for a year of consistency across the Classics and into the Grand Tours, and to try and focus on keeping our points and our ranking up there. We want to hopefully make the top 15 in the world so that we can keep our position in the WorldTour.”