Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) could skip the Giro d’Italia for the first time in four years to prepare for the Tour de France this July. He said that he wants to arrive in Yorkshire ready for the first stage, and a shot at the yellow jersey.
“I don’t know where I’m racing past the Dubai Tour,” Cavendish told Cycling Weekly last week.
“Sometimes last year, I was tired but still went to a race. It eventually grinds you down by the end of the sixth month of the year. We really want to keep an eye on it and make sure I’m going super-good for the Tour de France.”
The Tour de France’s first stage finishes in Harrogate, Cavendish’s mother’s home town. If he wins there then he would add a missing trophy to his chest: the Tour’s maillot jaune or yellow jersey.
Last year, a crash on the first stage to Bastia spoiled a rare chance for Cavendish. The Tour de France typically starts with a time trial stage but last year in Corsica, for the first time since 1966, it began with a flat stage for sprinters. This year’s Tour, the 101st edition, offers the same opportunity.
Cavendish raced his first Giro d’Italia in 2008 and only skipped it in 2010. He counts 15 stage wins and one red points jersey. However, he wants to avoid being tired and to leave his race schedule open. He said that he believes he will race less days this year.
“It’s not worth being tired. I already raced 60 days before the Tour last year, it’s quite a lot. I want to physically be in better preparation for it this year,” Cavendish said.
“I’m lucky that Omega Pharma-Quick Step not only invested in my lead-out train but also into leaving my race programme open so we can really look at it in quite short terms. I’m luckily to be able to do it. We have a rough outline but it’s really quite open.”
He races the Dubai Tour, starting February 5, next. If he does begin the Giro on May 9, this year rolling out from Belfast, he could decide at the last minute. Regardless, team Omega Pharma plans to race for Rigoberto Urán in the general classification. The Colombian placed second overall last year behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and joined the Belgian team over the winter after three years with Team Sky.