Dimension Data is flying high after four stage victories and a day in yellow in the first week of racing at the Tour de France. Going into the Tour, they had dared to hope for a single win and the yellow jersey, but off the back of a superb first week, team manager Doug Ryder says that they could still yet add to their tally.
"These guys have grown in ability and stature and depth, and the confidence is at such a high point now that they feel anything is possible," Ryder told Cyclingnews. "It's a dangerous place for the competition and our team feels like they can't do anything wrong. It's going to be an exciting couple of weeks. We'll try and win again, if possible.
"Edvald [Boasson Hagen] is still on it and wants to win a stage, Steve [Cummings] feels he has another stage in him and then you still have all the other guys, there's proper quality here, and we didn't have that in years gone by."
The team has been so successful that they have had to put in a request to their sponsor Nederburg for more champagne as they've already run out. With so many victories, it is easy to get carried away by it, but Ryder says that the team is having no problem keeping their feet on the ground.
"I think the charity is what humbles them. I always say that this team will never change because of its success," he explained. "They know what they're racing for, and they know why and it is unique because it is for a purpose and a greater cause. When Cavendish won that stage and auctioned his yellow jersey that was enough to put 250 kids on bikes. They hear that and they know that their success had a direct reflection on raising funds for a cause that we're passionate about."
Mark Cavendish won three of the team's four stages, as well as the yellow jersey following his win at Utah Beach on the opening stage. On all three of his sprint victories, Cavendish has shown a turn of speed that hasn't been seen in him in a long time. He has even put up a serious fight for the green jersey and went into the rest day with a small lead over Peter Sagan. Depending on how he is after a weekend of tough mountain stages, Cavendish looks favourite to win at least one more sprint stages.
"It shows that Cav back, not back actually because he never went away he just had people who didn't believe in him in the way that we do," said Ryder. "I think the discipline on the track has really helped him, but ultimately he is the consummate professional. For him to do road work and track work and balance that with family and all his other obligations because he has a lot, it's amazing."
Ryder was coy on whether or not Dimension Data still had plans on taking Cavendish all the way to Paris, saying that they were taking it day by day. However, Cavendish hinted after stage 9 that he has his eyes set on a fifth victory on the Champs Elysees.
Building for the future
The Tour de France is prime time to make connections and sign new contracts for the forthcoming season. Prior to the Tour de France, Ryder told Cyclingnews that he was looking to build his Grand Tour team for 2017. He has since added that bolstering their Classics side of the team as well but is reluctant to unsettle the delicate balance the team has at the moment.
As of August 1, riders already riding for other teams are free to officially sign contracts for 2017. With that deadline fast approaching, discussions with riders are ongoing, but Ryder insists that there is nothing definite, and we can't expect the same headline-making signings that we've seen in recent times.
"As you know, with the UCI regulations we can't," he said. "Of course, people are still talking, but we haven't had any deep conversations with anybody. There are no major coups like last year.
"Rolf [Aldag] and I will be talking, now's the time when everyone is on the market. There's lots of speculation about teams and who is going where. There's a lot of uncertainty for sure. We've at least got stability, but we've got to decide where we want to focus that energy on but at least we've got that stability now."
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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.
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