ugg botas baratas It’s time to consider Mark Cavendish one of the all
CloseRupert has reported cycling since 1984, first covering the Tour de France in 1987. He lived in Belgium and France from 1987 to 1996, covering every major cycling race, and returns to Europe regularly to write about the sport.
“I am wondering what they say today ‘How lucky he got,’ or if they just respect he is the best sprinter here,” Aldag told ESPN in Angers after Cavendish took his 28th career Tour stage victory to match the second best mark of French legend Bernard Hinault and move within six stages of the all time best from Belgian superstar Eddy Merckx (34).
Let’s face it. No matter how abrasive Cavendish’s personality can be and offend, for a sprinter to be alongside or close to two five time Tour winners is special.
Before racing resumed Tuesday with Stage 4 (237.5km from Saumur to Limoges), talk throughout the Tour entourage was of respect and admiration for Cavendish.
Tour race director Christian Prudhomme lauded the 31 year old Isle of Man rider. “[He is] the best sprinter in the history of the Tour, and not only because he has 28 wins,” Prudhomme said. “What struck me is that he loves the Tour. He has such a respect for the Tour, for the yellow jersey.”
Mark Cavendish will lead the African Dimension Data team at the Tour de France. Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty ImagesLike many riders, Simon Gerrans (Orica BikeExchange) concurred on a day in which he was named to Australia’s Olympic road race team for next month’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s really impressive what he has done so far in this Tour de France,” Gerrans told ESPN. “To be honest, you sort of look at Cav’s history in the Tour. He was really dominating there a few years ago. Then, the last couple of years, he dropped off a little bit. I think a lot of people, myself included, kind of wrote Cav off and said his best years were behind him. But he is proving everyone wrong in this Tour de France. It’s great for him.”
A major discussion point in the Cavendish story has been how he has split his season to accommodate his ambitions for the road and track, the latter in which he has been picked on Team GB for the Olympics to race the omnium and as fifth rider for the team pursuit.
Whatever happens, Cavendish’s Tour is already a success; but no one, especially Cavendish, expects him to settle for two stage wins, one day in the yellow and a couple in green.
“It’s Mark Cavendish. Everyone expects him to win every race he starts,” said Australian Mark Renshaw, Cavendish’s key lead out rider on the bunch sprints for the Etixx QuickStep team. “I think he had a pretty relaxed run in with the track preparation. He has great speed, so when he gets the fire in his belly, that’s probably when he is at his best.”
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Cavendish, Contador: Two extremes in the first stage of the TourWhile Mark Cavendish claimed his first yellow jersey ever on Saturday, Alberto Contador finished 86th after a nasty crash.
Cavendish’s change of teams to Dimension Data, which races for the Qhubeka charity in South Africa and uses bikes to give people access to work and education, might have given him a new lease on life. Cavendish said as much after his stage win Monday.
And many people are still intrigued with how Cavendish will back up for the Olympics from the physical demands of the Tour, and with how his legs will transition back to racing on the track.
With 14 days between the Tour finish on July 24 and the omnium event, time will be vital.
When asked, Gerrans, who does not have a track background, said: “I’ve got no idea.” But added with his trademark smile: “For sure, I’ll be watching . like every other cycling fan.”
Hinault, one of the five time winners of the Tour whose last win in 1985 remains the last Frenchman to win the Tour, believes there are no boundaries for Cavendish.
“When you are in good form and good in your head, a lot of things can happen,” said Hinault, who did not hide how impressed he has been by Cavendish’s stage winning spree in the Tour. “It’s good what he has done. I hope he has more than us. That’s the goal.”
Along with Cavendish achieving his dream of winning an Olympic medal, something he has twice missed out on the track at the 2008 Beijing Games, in which he raced with Bradley Wiggins, and in 2012 at London, where he was one of the favourites to win the road race.
Pressed on the odds of Cavendish passing Merckx’s tally, Hinault said: “Why not? He has 28. Eddy Merckx has 34. He will need six and he is not old. He still has the possibility, I think.”
While many agree that Mark Cavendish’s indoor track work has helped him out on the road, some wonder if the Tour grind will affect him in the Olympics. AP Photo/Tim IrelandAsked how Cavendish, at his age, will maintain his winning edge in mind as much as in his body, Hinault said: “It has already been up to him, but also the team that he has around him, his team that keeps him up near the front. He is well protected. He is also a warrior.”
But Hinault was surprised to hear that Cavendish said he never thought his name would be mentioned in Tour history alongside the Frenchman or Merckx. “Why would he not think of that?” Hinault said. “It’s a goal in a career to say, ‘I am capable of going out in search of this trophy’ . Even if it is not a trophy, because finally they are victories that accumulate one after the other. That is the most beautiful of all about it.”
So does Hinault expect that Cavendish, who also won the green points jersey in 2011, will go on to finish his 10th start in the Tour? “He has already done it,” said Hinault, smiling. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t this year [laughing] . perhaps to win another green jersey.”
Malcolm Elliott, a former British sprinter who raced the Tour in 1987 and 1988, has followed Cavendish “since the beginning,” and has been excited by the rider’s turn about of form.
“It was very much an unknown coming into this race and even this season, just how he was going to be [after being] focused on the track so much for the Games,” Elliott told ESPN. “The track work he has done is obviously working.”