23 May, 2024
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Mark Cavendish enters Giro d’Italia before Tour de France record attempt


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Mark Cavendish will go into the Giro d’Italia this weekend “hungry” to earn his first win for his Astana Qazaqstan team.

The Manxman’s primary target this year remains the Tour de France and the chance to claim the Tour stage wins record outright after joining Eddy Merckx on 34, but before that he has the opportunity to add to his 16 Giro stage wins over the next three weeks.

Doing so will not be straightforward.

He will go to the race without any kind of leadout train within the Astana team and facing competition from the likes of Mads Pedersen, Fernando Gaviria and Pascal Ackermann, but Cavendish has the experience and knowhow to remain a contender regardless.

“I’m looking forward to my first Grand Tour with Astana Qazaqstan,” Cavendish said.

“Of course, we don’t have a sprint-focused team like many others. But we have a very strong team for hunting for stage wins across the 21 days. And, of course, a good mix of talent and experience to make the most and have fun racing.

“Having a team not focused solely on the sprints relieves the pressure from my shoulders slightly, though of course I’m hungry to try and win.

“Although we don’t have a train, I know I have the confidence of my team around me in the flat days and I’ll do all I can to support my teammates in the other stages.”

Cavendish was a late addition to the Astana squad this winter after the collapse of the B&B Hotels squad left him scrambling for a contract.

Although the 37-year-old is yet to win in a team that has had little sprinting pedigree in recent years, he has had podium finishes at the UAE Tour and Scheldeprijs despite illness affecting him in the early months of the campaign.

Cavendish’s inclusion in the Giro squad surprised some observers given his focus is sure to be on the Tour and a chance of making yet more history.

But Cavendish’s former coach Rod Ellingworth, Ineos Grenadiers’ deputy team principal, sees the Italian Grand Tour as part of the process.

“I presume Mark’s No.1 goal is to win a stage in the Tour and knowing Mark he will be very focused on that,” Ellingworth said.

“Can he do it? I think he can. I could see Mark taking the record this year and it will be a fantastic achievement if he can.

“Knowing Mark he will be working back from that moment. I’ve not spoken to him in detail but I think he will be using this race as a stepping stone.

” Knowing Mark he needs to eat, breathe and sleep cycling and being on a race is the perfect opportunity to do that.”


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