The Tour de France route will force Mark Cavendish’s sprint train to adjust in order to win. The route this year, especially the first week, features sprint stages with a punch. The race’s first leg on Saturday closes with a 4.7 per cent climb to in Les Herbiers.
Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad train will include Bernhard Eisel, Mark Renshaw and Matt Goss in the final kilometres.
“I don’t know [the likely order]. It will have to [adapt] a little bit,” Cavendish responded to a question from Cycling Weekly in today’s HTC-Highroad team press conference.
“It will change depending on the style of the run-in and who’s up for that day. We just have to each stage as it comes.”
The first day ends in Les Herbiers with a punch followed by the team time trial on Sunday, but then Cavendish faces a mostly flat stage on Monday. The race continues to throw punches on Tuesday with an uphill finish to Mûr-de-Bretagne.
HTC selected its nine-man team accordingly, based on stage wins for Cavendish and Goss, and the overall placing of Tony Martin.
“We are going to continue what we’ve done almost every year, a balanced team,” General Manager Bob Stapleton told Cycling Weekly last week. “We are not going to stock a team with guys for a GC win, even if we have young contenders. There are going to be finishes that aren’t suited to Cavendish, Goss will give us additional options.”
HTC-Highroad’s team: Mark Cavendish, Matt Goss, Mark Renshaw, Bernhard Eisel, Tony Martin, Peter Velits, Tejay Van Garderen, Lars Bak and Danny Pate. Van Garderen and Bak will race in their first Tour de France.
“They’re [Van Garderen and Bak] going to ride on the front, we need guys to ride on the front. They are big engines. You will see their faces on the front of the peloton in these three weeks,” Cavendish continued to Cycling Weekly.
“I’m happy [with the selection]. I know most of the riders in the team and we all get on really well. The cohesion in the group off the bike is a big factor [for success] on the bike.
“There are men that are missing, but you can only have a nine-man team. It is as strong as it has been in the past, experience-wise? No, that’s a given. Commitment-wise? Definitely, it’s as strong as it’s been. Power-wise? It’s as strong as it’s been.”
Cavendish continued the adaptation theme, mentioning Goss. He said that he’ll help with the lead-outs, but also give HTC-Highroad options for the finishes in Les Herbiers and in Mûr-de-Bretagne.
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index