Cavendish excited for debut in dream race

Mark Cavendish, Tour Down Under 2011

Paris-Roubaix2011: The Big Preivew>>>

Mark Cavendish is thrilled to be heading into the "Hell of the North" on Sunday in France.

HTC-Highroad's sprinter will race Paris-Roubaix for the first time to support Bernhard Eisel.

"I am excited," Cavendish explained. "I wanted to race it for five years now, I've been begging to race it."

He won his second race this year on Wednesday at the Scheldeprijs, essentially closing out his spring campaign.

However, he's eager and curious to race Paris-Roubaix. Last year, he raced Belgian's cobbled Tour of Flanders classic and joined the team on its Roubaix reconnaissance, but advisor Erik Zabel talked him out of doing the race itself. The team was worried about him racing too much.

Finally he has received his chance. He will line up with HTC's eight-man team in Compiègne for the 256.5 kilometre race, including 51.5 kilometres on France's worst cobbled roads.

"I wasn't able to ride Roubaix last year, but I did the recon with the team and then watched it on TV like a kid. It was the same for the Tour of Flanders in the years before last, I watched at home and wished I was racing," Cavendish added.

"I had to convince the directors. They don't want me taking risks, but I think it's the same in other races. If it's a hilly race, I'm dropped and I am going full gas on a descent. I think that's more dangerous than racing with some experienced bike riders in the Tour of Flanders."

Cavendish has raced with HTC at the Tour of Flanders the last two years. In this season's edition, he finished in the main group, 15'28" behind winner Nick Nuyens.

"For four years, I was begging to race Flanders, I got to ride it last year at last. Five years for Roubaix, and finally, I get to do it. I've done the recon twice already; to be able to do it, it's exciting."

Cavendish will take a week off his bike after racing Roubaix. He will return and build towards the Tour de France, racing a programme that includes the Rund um den Eschborn-Frankfurt, the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of Switzerland.

HTC's Roubaix team:
Lars Bak, Mark Cavendish, John Degenkolb, Bernhard Eisel, Jan Ghyselinck, Matthew Goss, Alex Rasmussen, Gatis Smukulis.

Related links
Spring Classics 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage indexHammond dreams of Paris-Roubaix winMark Cavendish takes his third Scheldeprijs victory

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