Brit Mark Cavendish starts Tirreno-Adriatico today in Italy as his final preparation for Milan-San Remo, but he said that his HTC-Columbia team will not be taking charge in the sprints like normal.
“You won’t see us like normal, you won’t see us taking up the chase like we normally do,” Cavendish said in Livorno. “We will leave it to the other teams. If they start riding, then we will ride, but we are not going to initiate it as we normally do. We are not that confident.”
Cavendish has recovered from dental problems, but they delayed his season start and his training. Tirreno-Adriatico, March 10 to 16, is only his fourth race of the season, but he believes it offers opportunities to win prior to Milan-San Remo, March 20.
“Today and the last day [for sprint finishes], and maybe Friday because the climbs are not that hard. We will see, I am not going to kill myself to get over them, but I do want to ride into some condition.”
Cavendish raced Milan-San Remo for the first time last year, and won. The race, nearly 300 kilometres, starts in Milan and finishes along the Ligurian coast. Cavendish and his HTC team-mates rode part of the final kilometres on Sunday, the day after he raced Strade Bianche.
“I was in better form than I thought I was on Saturday, but not like last year,” continued Cavendish. “We did some good training the next day, I felt okay on the Cipressa and Poggio. [We rode] the last 110 kilometres, about from five kilometres before Le Mànie, then the Tre Capi, Cipressa and Poggio.”
Cavendish won four races by this same point last year, but this year he has yet to win. He said today that he feels stronger this year despite lacking wins and the same number of training kilometres.
“I am a little bit heavier, obviously, but I am a lot stronger than last year… naturally stronger. Obviously, I have not trained as much.”