Today at the Giro d’Italia, Mark Cavendish is aiming to secure his 100th victory
since turning professional in 2007. The Manxman made it through the Giro’s early mountain stages and first summit finish with dedicated team support.

So much focus this season has been placed on the strength and weaknesses of Cavendish’s sprint train at Omega Pharma-QuickStep, which he transferred to this season, that the loss of mountain chaperone Bernhard Eisel has been overlooked.

Many riders are suffering from cold symptoms and fevers after a tough opening week animated by rain and cooler temperatures, which is again forecast today.

Cavendish isn’t an exception, – managing a cold since Friday – but seems better off than some of his rivals, including Australian Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), before today’s 132km 12th stage from World Heritage site Longarone to Treviso.

That could be partly attributed to the support he’s had in all stages throughout the race thus far.

“When I found out Bernie was staying at Sky I said to [fiancéé] Peta [Todd], ‘what I am going to do without Bernie? What am I going to do in the mountains?’,” Cavendish told Cycling Weekly.

“She was like, ‘instead of having of one guy, Bernie, with you, you’ll have a group of guys.’ I was like, ‘fair point.’”

Eisel was an experienced workhorse in Cavendish’s lead-outs at Sky, and prior to that Highroad, but also personally guided and encouraged the latter through the most gruelling of Grand Tour stages to make time limits.

“The guys have always been around me – on the flat days, on the mountains days – so it’s been okay,” he continued.

“The experienced guys like Gert [Steegmans] and [Jérôme] Pineau, are doing incredible, but also the guys who are new to it like Matteo [Trentin], Iljo [Keisse] and Julien Vermote. Julian hasn’t left my side since the beginning of the Giro.”

The 23-time Tour de France stage winner is in good shape and had enough energy in the final 500m of Saturday’s 54.8km time trial to throw a bidon at a spectator who made a jibe about the crash involving Italian Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) at last year’s race.

“I get it all the time! It’s not even what they say it’s just the fact they think they’re funny in front of their friends, and they’re the first person to say it,” he mused. “The time trial felt okay and the Giro so far – apart from getting sick – has been pretty okay.”

Cavendish has won two of the available seven flat stages thus far and plans to finish the Giro where he may mark his 100th career victory by Cycling Weekly criteria.

The 27-year-old is currently third in the points classification behind overall contender Cadel Evans (BMC) and Elia Viviani (Cannondale).

Cavendish has won the points standings once at every Grand Tour except the Giro. He wore the red jersey for a stint last week and was second – by a point – to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in 2012. However, he remains publicly modest of his chances this season.

“It’s not really even for the points jersey,” Cavendish said of his incentive to stay on contrary to previous years. “It would be nice to do it but I knew – when there was like four sprints – it wasn’t really possible anyway. But I still want to win Grand Tour stages, still want to win stages of the Giro, and I’ve got a team here that is built around me, so to just f*** off after a couple of weeks it leaves a few guys out.”

Should Cavendish make it to Brescia it means he will already have a Grand Tour in the legs come the Tour de France unlike key rivals Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), who are not here.

“At the minute I’m feeling good. I’ll know straight away if it’s going to be detrimental and if I should carry on or not,” he said.

Two of the seven flat stages, on paper, fall in the final week with the last following two of the toughest high mountain runs of the race. Nevertheless the closing sprint finish is as much incentive for anyone, including Goss, to finish.

“Stage 12 is going to be the next opportunity,” said Goss. “I’m also looking forward to the day after. That’s probably more like the [fifth] stage that [John] Degenkolb won and I crashed in. Hopefully I can try and make the most of that small climb in the end and get over that. That suits me a little bit more.

“I’d say I probably have more of a chance at stage 13 than in stage 12. Cav is definitely quick and [Goss's chief pilot] Leigh [Howard] has gone home. Cav’s still got all his guys here. I’ll definitely be trying 100 per cent but stage 13 is another really good opportunity.”

Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) has abandoned the Giro citing fatigue whilst Viviani and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) have been knocking at the door. Degenkolb, like Goss, is less a pure sprinter than Cavendish with some smaller teams, not present at the Tour, also pushing for the win.

“It’s not fair to make out it’s easy to win here, we just did everything right,” Cavendish said of his two successful lead-outs last week. Steegmans suffered a mechanical in what was otherwise a well-executed finish in stage one. He demonstrated his strength as a chief pilot five days later.

Cavendish and Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager, Patrick Lefevre have been both complimentary and critical of the team’s performance in the final kilometre of sprints stages early season but it seems, with the benefit of time, to be coming together in Italy. The Giro group, minus Cavendish, raced together, essentially practicing, at the Tour of Turkey in the run-up to the Grand Tour, and can concentrate fully on the latter with the Classics now done.

Twitter: @SophieSmith86

Related links



Cycling Weekly’s all-time list of British pro winners



Cycling Weekly’s all-time ranking of British pro riders

Giro d’Italia 2013: Previews and race info



Giro d’Italia 2013: Coverage index



Giro d’Italia 2013: British TV schedule



Giro 2013: 10 things you need to know



Giro d’Italia 2013: The Big Preview

Giro d’Italia 2013: Stage reports



Stage 11: Navardauskas wins as favourites enjoy day off



Stage 10: Uran wins as Wiggins and Hesjedal lose time



Stage nine: Belkov takes solo win as Wiggins put under pressure



Stage eight: Dowsett wins as Nibali takes race lead



Stage seven: Wiggins crashes as Hansen wins



Stage six: Cavendish wins stage six of Giro



Stage five: Degenkolb avoids crash to take win



Stage four: Battaglin sprints to first Giro stage win


Stage three: Paolini takes charge



Stage two: Sky wins team time trial



Stage one: Cavendish wins opener

Giro d’Italia 2013: Photo galleries



Photos by Graham Watson



Stage 11 gallery



Stage 10 gallery



Stage nine gallery



Stage eight gallery



Stage seven gallery



Stage six gallery



Stage five gallery



Stage four gallery



Stage three gallery



Stage two gallery



Stage one gallery



Team presentation gallery




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  • Joe

    And he has done it, Welcome to the ’100′ club Cav

  • stuart stanton

    Mark Cavendish is not ‘English’. Twi’n ddim Saesneg.

  • dai bananas brother

    It’s emptying down out there judging by the Tv, so Cav should be okay to aquaplane in. Evans looks pretty fed up and now there’s been a whole crowd of ‘em gone flying on a bend, and Wiggins is right at the back. Only watching because we were told that the bloke who talks like he has a mouthful of semolina has had the sack so we don’t have to put up with Neeeeebarrrleee and pronounciations of french names as if they are coming from the Director of L’Acadamie Francais. Roll on Brad, the weather forecast is looking grim show’em what your made of!!

  • gordon vail

    Can’t believe how well Cadel Evans is going especially since he is in on another weak Grande Tour team. Hopefully M C will knock the pants off that cocky little Italian sprinter who bangs his handlebars every time he loses. As an Aussie who watches the G Tours every year, ORICA Green Edge needs to approach C Froome and make him an offer to cross over to the team down under. We need a Tour contender for the T de France and the Veulta. Nabili looking really good.

  • Oliver

    Absolutely right, William. All of the Englishmen in the race should help Cavendish, regardless of their team. And…er…all of the Spaniards (or whoever) in Liverpool FC (or whatever) should help a Spanish striker in Manchester United (or whatever) in getting to a milestone goal-scoring figure, even if he is playing against Liverpool…yes???

  • William

    If Mark can make it 100 today that will be brilliant. All of the Englishmen in the race should help him get there, regardless of their team.

    Give him a knighthood for perseverance and hopefully he will go on to 200 wins