Cavendish gunning for first major points win

London: After missing out on the points classification title in this year`s Tour de France despite winning five stages, Britain`s Mark Cavendish is optimistic about landing the Tour of Spain equivalent.

With five days remaining the HTC-Columbia sprinter holds an 18-point advantage in the category over Spain`s Joaquim Rodriguez, the overall race leader.

"The points classification wasn`t an objective at all when I came here and it came as a surprise when I first got it without winning a stage," the 25-year-old Cavendish told reporters in Valladolid.

"But the green jersey`s definitely a goal for me now. There are two definite sprint stages left, at Salamanca and Madrid, and another one that maybe I could do something in at Toledo."

"I think in any case Rodriguez is more interested in the overall race so I`m feeling pretty confident," added Cavendish.

The Briton has notched 22 stage wins on the Tours of France, Spain and Italy, including two in this year`s Vuelta, and is keen to secure his first victory in the points competition of a top-three stage race.

"I`ve never won that points jersey before and it would be good to do it," said Cavendish.

Team Objectives

"But that`s not our only objective for the team, we`ve got a rider [Peter Velits of Slovakia] in the top 10 overall, we won the team time trial and we`ve had guys in breaks.”

"There`s only two guys in our team left here who are over 25 so it`s a young squad but we`re doing really well."

Cavendish said he would like to gift a stage to key wingman Matt Goss of Australia before the end of the race to thank him for his work.

"I tried to let Matt take a stage before I made the green an objective and it didn`t quite work out. But if I`ve got the points jersey secured then I`d really like to do that," added the Isle of Man rider.

Rodriguez said he was closing in on the biggest victory of his career.

"I`m in the best position possible, even if the time differences are small," the Katusha rider told reporters, referring to his 33-second lead over Italian Vincenzo Nibali.

"If I can hold on to the jersey in tomorrow`s time trial, then great, but it`s Saturday`s last stage in the mountains where I`ll be on the attack. That stage could change my life."

Bureau Report