CAVENDISH AND HAMMOND CHECK OUT TOUR PROLOGUE ROUTE
Roger Hammond and Mark Cavendish paid a flying visit to London yesterday to check out parts of the Tour de France prologue route. The pair stopped in the capital for a T-Mobile press conference before heading out to Philadelphia for a week’s racing.
The pair came to the capital along with team mates Michael Rogers and Linus Gerdemann, although the visit is no indication of their chances of making the Tour team.
T-Mobile will announce their nine-man team when they have decided on their approach to the race. If they come to London for the Grand Depart with overall ambitions, Hammond is unlikely to be with them. But if the team go to the race focused on stage wins, he has an excellent chance of being selected.
Mark Cavendish was never supposed to be in the Tour team, but five wins this year, including two ProTour wins at the Tour of Catalonia, have lead many to believe he’s already capable of performing in sprints in a major Tour. If he doesn’t make it to the start in London, he is likely to start the Tour of Spain later in the year.
“I’m keen to ride but I’m aware that’s in only in England for two days,” Hammond said. “I’d only want to go if I thought I could go there and do something, which I think I can. I’ve never wanted to do a grand tour before, so just the fact that I’d like to ride is different.”
The quartet didn’t get the chance to check out the whole of the prologue course due to traffic, “It’s hard to tell when you’re being run off the road by a Range Rover, black cab and bus all at the same time,” Hammond said.
Cavendish though, is one step ahead, having already gained intimate knowledge of the route, “I know the course from playing The Getaway on the Playstation,” he said.
Despite Rolf Aldag's (T-Mobile’s Sports Manager) confession last week of using blood boosting drug EPO during his career, Hammond believes that team morale is, if anything, better than before. “The team has joined together,” he said. “Before, we had something to fight for, and this has just reminded us of that.
“It’s obviously not good news, but we can take a positive from it. Rolf was in a miserable situation ten years ago, and who better to have as a manager as someone who knows not to put that kind of pressure on a team.
“I can only judge Rolf on how he’s been with me since I’ve been in this team and not on something that happened ten years ago. He’s been fantastic,” said Hammond.