Mark Cavendish’s anger at being denied the green jersey in last year’s Tour de France is firing him up to claim the sprint prize when this year’s edition of the road race gets underway next month.
The 25-year-old British rider was 10 points away from winning the green jersey when he won his sixth stage of the Tour as the race concluded in Paris.
But he remains bitter at being penalised for allegedly pushing Norway’s Thor Hushovd – the eventual green jersey winner – in a decision he maintains cost him the chance of a place on the podium.
“I still believe that was the defining moment of the green jersey and I always will do,” Cavendish told reporters here on Thursday.
“To take the positives from it, it gave me something to aim for this year – that’s a good thing.
“Things will happen like that – you’ve just got to take them on the chin.
“On the bike, off the bike, I have high morals and I’ll always want to win and win in the correct way.
“I want to win on sporting terms.”
Cavendish crashed recently in the Tour de Suisse and was blamed for the accident that forced Heinrich Haussler, Hushovd’s team-mate, to quit the race which the Isle of Man rider left early to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
“Mentally I’ve taken a bit of a knocking this year, but physically I’m in good stead,” said Cavendish who has had stage wins in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie and the Tour of California.
“Everything’s fine. In January I outlined the year, I said I’ve got problems, I’ve had problems. There’s nothing to stress about.
“Like I said in January, I’m not going to do races I can just win, win, win – I’m going to focus on the Tour de France and sacrifice wins.
“As I sit here now I can say everything is exactly as planned.”
Cavendish remains cagey, though, on whether he can surpass his six stage wins on last year’s Tour.
“I’ll just try to win as much as possible,” he said. “My job is not to set bars and try to better them. My job is to finish off a job that my team and I aim for and that is to win as much as possible.
“Six is a hell of a lot. There’s nine possible sprints. I think Eddy (Merckx) has the record with eight – that’s a dream kind of thing to do.
“If I don’t win a stage I’ve failed. Obviously I want to win a stage but you have to be happy with a stage at the Tour de France. Then the green jersey.
“I’d never finished the Tour before last year, so I couldn’t set it as a goal beforehand – but now I can, and I will and the team will and we’re incredibly focused for it.”
© AFP 2010