As many of you already know there's a feature on Mark Cavendish in CN and the races he plans to ride in 2009. Cav being Cav he is very open on not only his schedule (which some riders are very cagey about) but his thoughts on each of those races. He also comments on his departed teammates (Ciolek, Gerdemann, Klier, Wiggins, Knaven,and Hammond). Its all interesting stuff and below the jump I'll comment on his hopes for individual races- and hope that you put in your two cents as well. Good hot stove stuff.
- I love that he's doing Qatar, if only as a warm-up as I suppose he'll face on Tom Boonen and the Quickstep team. Since those two haven't faced each other since last year's Scheldeprijs, this could be some good early season fun.
-Then of course we'll probably see both of them again at California a week later! Yes, undoubtedly we'll see other good sprinters in both of these stage races (Wiggins and Farrar for Garmin among others) Boonen vs Cavendish will hog the pre-race sprinters headlines there.
Then Cav's schedule gets real interesting. Tirreno-Adriatico we expect and with ToC and Qatar under his belt he should be in form for the flat sprinters stages there. But then... Milan-San Remo. Whoa. This gets right to the heart of Cav's weakness: his ability to be competitive on any sort of gradient. Obviously sprinters do win MSR fairly regularly but its sprinters who can navigate the last few hills, like his new coach Eric Zabel. Cav understands and speaks candidly of the Poggio etc. in the interview but the question remains- do you feel like he can actually compete in that race this year?
His lack of hill-ability is further underscored by his frank admission that Flanders is to much for him. So you think MSR is within his range?
Then he makes clear his interest in Paris-Roubaix. Flat course there, Paris-Roubaix. Got some cobbles there I hear. So tell me again, how big is Mark Cavendish? Does he fit the physical profile of a P-R winner or even a serious competitor? Is there anyone insane enough to tow him to the velodrome with a chance to win? What's great here is that he'll try.
The rest of his year, Romandie-Giro-Tour mainly, (yes, I'm skipping over his other Belgian races which are similar to last year) is similar to last year (yes! we can say 2008 was last year now!) except that a) he knows how hard the Giro will be for a sprinter like him (no chance at the points jersey for him IMO which I can imagine going to a non-sprinter with Benna maybe the only fast guy who can compete for it) and b) he will be in the hunt for the Green jersey in France.
Finally a word about his erstwhile teammates. No Klier. No Hammond. No Ciolek. Who's gonna be his main leadout man? Greipel? Several different guys? Will this affect him? Speculate away...