By Gregor Brown
Mark Cavendish ticked off one more box heading towards Milan-San Remo on Saturday: meeting with the press. Yesterday in Piacenza, he explained how his Sky team is preparing for the Italian classic.
"People can throw what they want at us. I have myself for the sprint, Edvald [Boasson Hagen] for the attacks," he said. "We've got it covered."
The 26-year-old joined team Sky over the winter after racing for six years with Highroad. He won Milan-San Remo with the team three years ago in 2009. Sky is ready to help him repeat the win, this time in the World Champion's rainbow jersey that he won last autumn in Copenhagen.
The race covers 298 kilometres, or 305.5 if you considers the parade out of Milan. It finishes with a series of short climbs along the Italian Riviera. Sky is fielding most of Cavendish's team-mates from Tirreno-Adriatico, with Michael Rogers coming in to replace Chris Sutton.
"Mick is a solid guy and knows what he needs to do," race coach, Rod Ellingworth told Cycling Weekly. "Fortunately, we have strength in the team, that's all part of it, isn't it?"
Cavendish will team with Rogers, Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel, Jeremy Hunt, Ian Stannard, Mathew Hayman and Thomas Löfkvist. They are staying in the Best Western Park Hotel in Piacenza, where, besides press conferences, they plan for San Remo.
Norway's Boasson Hagen won a Tirreno-Adriatico stage one day after Cavendish's win and is marked as the lead-out man for tomorrow. Ideally, he and maybe Löfkvist will help Cavendish regain position after the final Poggio climb with 6.2 kilometres remaining.
"The last two years it was about getting rid of me, my form wasn't there," explained Cavendish. "This year I have great form, the team is strong, the spirit is good, we're strong enough to deal with anything."
Since the start of the year and his British adventure, Cavendish has won two stages in the Tour of Qatar, the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne semi-classic and the Tirreno stage to Indicatore.
"The fact that it's a British team makes it special, big British company, a lot of British riders, guys I grew up with... This is why I wanted to be here," Cavendish added.
"I've always worked with Rod [Ellingworth] since I was 17, and couldn't work with him like I wanted to the past couple of years. They care about me, which is a lot better, something I missed the last couple of years."
Sky will arrive in Milan at Castello Sforzesco around 8:45 local time tomorrow. Then Cavendish and his seven helpers will sign in and set off at 9:45. The race is scheduled to finish near 17:00, when Sky will know if its preparations were successful.
Cavendish and Sky fine-tune train for San Remo
Michael Rogers replaces Christian Knees in Sky's San Remo line-up
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