Markus Cavendish declared himself relaxed as he sees opportunities to add to his 15-stage Giro d’Italia tally over the next three weeks.
His selection in the QuickStep AlphaVinyl roster has sparked inevitable speculation as to whether he will miss the Tour de France – having won four stages and equaled Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 last summer – but Cavendish’s focus is entirely on the Giro , which begins with Three Days in Hungary.
“It’s been nine years since I last rode the Giro and I won the points red jersey and five stages (2013),” he said.
“It’s a race I’ve always enjoyed racing in the past. Obviously the dynamic (of the race) has changed over the last nine years, it may not be the race I remember but we’ll see.”
Cavendish never went for the points classification and there’s little chance of him donning the pink jersey for a fourth time considering Friday’s opening stage is uphill to the Royal Palace Visegradbut he would like to expand his 15 stages.
There are seven recognized sprint opportunities on this year’s route, the first of which is Sunday’s stage to Balatonfüred.
Cavendish will be supported by a squad that includes veteran lead-out man Michael Morkov, Davide Ballerini and British Rider James Knox among others, with the stage hunt being their main goal.
“I’ve got some incredible guys ahead of me,” Cavendish said of the team’s leadership move. “I think that’s the biggest factor for my confidence. I know I have incredible guys who I can trust and who are on form…
“There’s a couple of opportunities, I think, so I’m pretty excited.”
Cavendish goes into the 2022 Giro with three wins, the first of them on Italian soil in Milan-Turin. It all came after a horrific accident at Ghent Six Day in November, when he suffered a punctured lung and two broken ribs.
It was a sad end to a dream in 2021. A few months after stage wins at the Tour of Turkey gave him his first wins in more than two years, Cavendish capitalized on a late call-up to the Tour squad back in the four-stage winning years, his first in the race since 2016.
That helped Cavendish, who turns 37 during the Giro, earn another extension to his career but brought no guarantee he would be back on the Tour this year to beat Merckx.
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Reporters at his pre-Giro press conference on Wednesday knew better than to spread the specter of the Tour, a topic Cavendish has no interest in discussing.
Speaking on a Eurosport podcast this week, he expressed his fears of artificially creating a rivalry within the squad with Fabio Jakobsen, who is expected to lead the team in France.
“Fabio and I have been so supportive of each other over the past few years and the last thing I want and the last thing he wants – the thing that scares me about all of this – is for any kind of rivalry to develop between us.” , he called.
“I know from experience what happens when the press wants to build a rivalry, it’s not so nice and unfortunately it starts to cause friction. We’re not like that and I don’t want to be like that either.
“That’s why I’m reluctant to talk about it, because I don’t want to argue with a partner about something beyond our control.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/mark-cavendish-giro-d-italia-italian-tour-de-france-budapest-b2071510.html Mark Cavendish ‘excited’ by stage win chances at Giro d’Italia