Certain statistics can make you feel old. Mark Cavendish turning 30 in May is one of those. Was it really seven years ago that a young upstart from T-Mobile racked up those first four stage wins in the Tour de France?
Cav admits to now having a few grey hairs but that’s probably more to do with his inability to beat Marcel Kittel than his advancing years.
We know that 2014 was poor but the good news is that Cav goes into the new season leaner, fitter and more motivated than ever. This is the final year of his contract at Etixx-Quick Step and his big bucks salary. If he doesn’t perform, he’ll be dropped and without a major league team to ride for, it would be impossible to take on Kittel and his mighty Giant-Alpecin lead-out train.
Racing six-days has kept Cav’s weight down, he’s climbing well and a bid to repeat his 2009 Milan-San Remo victory is the first big objective. It’s an event Kittel could never win and shows that Cavendish is much more of an all-round racer. If the German has more brute strength, then Cav will employ an ever-increasing array of tactics to beat him.
Expect our man and his team to stir things up in the crosswinds, attack on the cobbles and push the pace on the climbs. Cavendish still has the beating of Kittel; he just needs to go about it differently.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly