It?s looking likely that Mark Cavendish is going to make his second Tour de France appearance next month, according to a source in the team.
Team High Road have not yet announced their definitive team but after Cavendish?s performance at the Giro d?Italia, where he won two stages, he is firmly in the frame.
His form is good and when the Manxman?s desire to win a Tour stage is taken into account, a senior Team High Road official has admitted that barring accidents, Cavendish will be in Brest come July 5.
?We?re taking Kim [Kirchen], who got seventh overall last year, and we?re taking two sprinters, with [Gerald] Ciolek and Cavendish,? said the source.
?Cav is ready for it. If you win two stages in the Giro and give one away [to team-mate Andre Greipel], that shows it.
?He?s the fastest man in the peloton at the moment, and he came of age at the Giro.?
?And even last year?s Tour was good for him, because he saw the stress first-hand. We took him for experience to get a first look at the Tour,? the source continued.
In last year?s Tour, Cavendish crashed on stage one to Canterbury, which saw him race on covered in bandages. He made the top ten twice on sprint stages before pulling out in the Alps.
If, as expected, he starts this year, he is highly unlikely to do more than 10 or 12 days, choosing to skip the Alps to prepare for the Madison at the Olympic Games, where he will partner Bradley Wiggins.
High Road?s Tour strategy will be based around Cavendish and Ciolek figuring in the sprint stages, with Kirchen aiming to break into the top five.
There is still doubt about the participation of Michael Rogers, who has lost most of this season to mysterious attack of the Epstein-Barr virus. Rogers rode to 11th place overall at the Dauphiné Libéré, but team director Allan Peiper told CW that no decision had been taken yet on throwing him into a three-week stage race.
?Rogers? big focus is the Olympic Games time trial. The Tour question has come up but he doesn?t know if he can himself justic there,? said Peiper.
CAVENDISH?S 2007 TOUR
It was a steep learning curve for Mark Cavendish during his nine days on the Tour last year. He didn?t win a stage but he did learn the hard way what the Tour de France is all about.
Prologue A very creditable debut, taking 69th in London, 52 seconds down on winner Fabian Cancellara
Stage one Crashes into a spectator at the base of the Farthing Common climb, with 21 kilometres to go. Has a painful chase and finishes 2-45 down on winner Robbie McEwen
Stage two Held up in a crash two kilometres from the finish. Crosses the line in 166th place
Stage three Finishes ninth on the cobbles in Compiègne, on the day Cancellara won
Stage four Tenth in Joigny behind winner Thor Hushovd
Stage five Dropped on the hills and rides home in 181st (third from last) place, 18-32 behind winner Filippo Pozzato
Stage six Cavendish?s front wheel touches Boonen?s rear mech, breaking several spokes. Boonen wins the stage, Cavendish finishes 181st, 2-00 down
Stage seven The race reaches the Alps. Cavendish finishes in the grupetto ? the commonly-used Italian word for the last big group on the road, where the sprinters and the very tired bid for survival
Stage eight Abandons in the early stages of the Alpine stage to Tignes
What the Dauphine told us about the Tour