Cavendish set for packed 2011 calendar

March 3, 2011 - 0:0

Volcanoes aside, explosive sprinter Mark Cavendish is hoping to scale even greater heights in 2011 after he announced a packed schedule that will take in all three Grand Tours and the World Championships.

Starting with the Milan-San Remo classic later this month and moving on to Sicily's Mount Etna in May during the Giro d'Italia, the Briton will then turn his attention towards July's Tour de France and the world championships in September.
Cavendish, who will also defend his green jersey at the Vuelta a Espana starting in August, was unfazed by his hectic programme at the launch of the 2011 Giro alongside race director Angelo Zomegnan.
Asked if he thought he was taking on too much and his chances at the world championships in Copenhagen could be hindered by completing the gruelling three-week Tour de France, Cavendish's steely look and response said it all.
""It's the Tour de France. And there's still enough time,"" he said.
Time is certainly on 25-year-old Cavendish's side. He will be one of the names to watch in the men's road race at the 2012 London Olympics.
""The Olympics are big - London and a home crowd,"" he said. ""But until then there are two Tour de Frances, two Giro d'Italias, a world championships and two Milan-San Remos, 160 other days of racing before it, so this year is just as important as next year.""
Can he win Olympic gold to add to his 64 road stage wins which places him first in the all-time British winners list?
""Yes,"" Cavendish replied, not a hint of doubt in his voice.
The powerful HTC-Columbia team rider has never been short of confidence since he burst on to the scene in 2008 and has also never been one to suppress what he feels, which does not bother Zomegnan.
""What he thinks he says. It's not a problem,"" the Italian said.
Cavendish is also highly driven by success, as he showed at last year's Tour of Spain when he lasted the duration of the race to ensure he won the green jersey for the leading points scorer.
Zomegnan advised the Briton not to tire himself out at the Giro.
""I think his best goal is to arrive at the mountains with three or four wins. He can't transform his body like (Bradley) Wiggins,"" he said of Cavendish's Olympic team mate who came fourth in the 2009 Tour de France.
Spaniard Alberto Contador, battling to clear his name having been suspended provisionally until last month after testing positive for a small amount of the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol, is set to take part in the May 7-29 race but the biggest attraction of the event will be Mount Etna.
""In 2008 we rode halfway up Etna, but now we're riding right up to the top it will be pretty special. That will be spectacular for the fans of the race,"" said Cavendish.
There is no doubting that Contador's name on the starting list would be a huge boost to the organisers however.
""He said he's working. He's not sure that the situation is finished and the first goal is to regain a good level,"" Zomegnan said of a text message exchange a week ago with the three-times Tour de France winner.
""It's difficult to tell if he's happy or not because he's sure the story is not finished yet.""
(Source: Reuters)