Rotterdam: Six stage wins last year and four in 2008 are no guarantees that Mark Cavendish will deliver as much in this Tour de France, yet the Briton promised he would try his best.
“Every time you start a race you want to win. I want to win as many stages as possible, I would love to win 21 stages if that was possible,” said the Team Columbia sprinter on Friday.
The Manxman, who is also going for the green jersey he narrowly lost to Norway’s Thor Hushovd last year, can count on the support of his team mates with Austrian Bernhard Eisel and Australia’s Mark Renshaw as his best aides in mass sprints.
“Of course the green jersey is our big goal as well,” added Cavendish, who knows that his team will not be entirely dedicated to his cause.
With Australia’s Mick Rogers as the team’s leader for the overall classification alongside German Tony Martin, who can also bid for the best young rider’s white jersey, Team Columbia have more than one goal in the Tour starting on Saturday.
“It’s always a difficult balance to find in a team between the sprinters and the GC (general classification) riders. But we have a great team of friends and I’m confident,” said Rogers.
Cavendish had a troublesome start to the season, suffering a dental infection before he was kicked out of the Tour de Romandie for a two-fingered salute and penalised for dangerous sprinting in the Tour of Switzerland.
“I’m here to ride the Tour, not look back on the past,” he said.
Despite a tough Tour finale with gruelling climbs in the Pyrenees, Cavendish trusts his team to help him make it all the way to Paris.
“My preparation this season was around the mountains more than sprints. Last year at the same stage of the season I’d had 15 sprints while I had only six this year,” he said.