Mark Cavendish held his fire in stage one of the Tour Down Under today in Angaston, Australia. His HTC-Highroad team-mate Matt Goss won the first stage and took the overall lead.
“It is more important to win as many stages as possible,” said Cavendish, “it is irrelevant who it is with.”
Cavendish placed 62nd. Australian Goss won ahead of André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Robbie McEwen (RadioShack).
Goss followed Mark Renshaw, the man who led Cavendish to many of his Tour de France sprint wins last year. Cavendish sat behind Goss.
“Hayden Roulston went from about 1.5 kilometres to go, he got Bernard Eisel to 600 metres, I started at 600 metres,” said Renshaw. “It was a long sprint for Gossy, he had to go about from 300 metres, at the time when a couple of the other guys jumped.”
Goss also won the opening criterium Sunday night in Adelaide. Cavendish, explained Renshaw, will have his turn later in the week.
“He has never really raced this early, in January, so it is a shock for him,” added Renshaw. “I’m sure Cavendish will have a go sometime this week, he won’t be able to hold it himself back for that long.”
Cavendish is not sure.
“It’s not too early, it is just that if you want to be on best form for the Tour de France then… If you’ve got the same goals as me – San Remo, Tour de France, Worlds – and you are flying now then chapeau if you hold it for those three races as well,” said Cavendish
“I just want to be able to help, I can’t really contribute anything at the moment. If we weren’t winning then I would be disappointed.”
Cavendish’s rival and former team-mate, Greipel finished second and congratulated Goss. He won the race last year for HTC and believes he is stronger than Cavendish.
“I saw that Cav was not good, he was dropped on the first climb, so it was for sure that they [HTC] were going for Goss,” said Greipel.
“I didn’t notice [other sprinters], I was riding well at the front. Our whole team was there.”
In fact, only Italian sprinter Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) was behind on the first climb. Regardless, Greipel is more worried about stage one winner, Goss.
“I said before that Cav is not the guy to beat,” said Greipel, “that it will be Matthew Goss.”
“If Cav was there, he was there,” added Renshaw. “It was totally up to him. It’s January, when we get to the Tour de France, and he has won 16 stages, I am sure everyone will forget about the Tour Down Under.”
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