With just five stages remaining in this year’s Vuelta a Espana, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) says his chances of taking the green jersey all the way to Madrid are looking good.

If Cavendish succeeds, he will be just the second Briton to win a points jersey in a major Tour and the first since Malcolm Elliott 21 years ago – also in the Vuelta.

Cavendish currently has an 18 point advantage over Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), a solid cushion – especially as there are two sprints stages still left to go, to Salamanca on Thursday and Madrid on Sunday.

“The points classification wasn’t an objective at all when I came here, and it came as a surprise when I first got it without winning a stage,” Cavendish said to the news agency Reuters on the race’s second rest day.

“But green’s definitely a goal for me now.”

Rodriguez could be a rival, but Cavendish believes “he’s more interested in the overall, so I’m feeling pretty confident.”

“I’ve never won the points jersey [in a major Tour] before and it would be good to do it.”

“But that’s not our only objective for the team here, we’re got a rider [Peter Velits] in the top ten overall, too.”

“We’re a young squad, just two of the riders remaining here are over 25, but we’re gelling together well.”

Cavendish has also said that he would like to help leadout man Matt Goss get a stage win before the end of the race.

“If I’ve got the green jersey secured, I’d like to do that,” Cavendish said. “It would be a great way to thank him.”

Related links

Vuelta a Espana 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index