Brit Mark Cavendish starts the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race tomorrow in Italy with an eye on a second Milan-San Remo win. He will fine tune his form and work with the men who will be in charge with leading him to the win.
His HTC-Highroad team will select the eight-man team sometime in the days before the race, Saturday, March 19. They will likely take the majority from the Tirreno team, like Bernhard Eisel, and some from the Paris-Nice team.
“Eisel? Yes, absolutely. We have some great guys, I think most of them [for San Remo] are here and some of them are at Paris-Nice, but we will have a strong team,” Cavendish said today.
He won the near 300-kilometre one-day classic, from Milan to Italy’s Ligurian coast, two years ago in his debut appearance. The race along the coast features five famous climbs: the three “capi” – Mele, Cervo and Berta – the Cipressa and the Poggio. That final and the sprint demand a different type of lead-out train.
“Of course it does, Milan-San Remo is a series of six bunch sprints. It’s just not one sprint at the end, it’s a collection that builds up to the finish. The climbs are hard climbs, the positioning is important, your resilience is important, you need a team that’s going to support you all through the race, rather than just sit there and have a train at the end.”
Some of Cavendish’s rivals live in Monaco, only a short training ride from San Remo. World Champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) has already ridden the Cipressa and the Poggio ten times this year. Cavendish is based in Tuscany during the season, far enough away that a special reconnaissance trip is required.
After racing Strade Bianche on Saturday, Cavendish travelled north to ride San Remo’s final. He rode with all of the Tirreno team, except Mark Renshaw who was at the Three Days of West Flanders, and HTC’s advisor and four-time winner, German Erik Zabel. They rode the final 60 kilometres on Sunday and the final 100 kilometres on Monday.
“We do it every year,” said Cavendish. “It’s really just to refresh it in the mind.”