Team Columbia manager Rolf Aldag said he hopes for a top five place overall with Kim Kirchen and two stage wins during the team?s press conference in Brest on Friday but Mark Cavendish made it clear he thinks he can do even better.
He is targeting all the sprint stages in the first week and is not afraid to say it.
?I don?t talk bull***t. I say how it is,? he said when asked if he perhaps comes across a little bit cocky.
?When you can justify yourself as the best, you might as well say it. I?m not talking about me personally but my team, I think we?ve got a right to have a bit of a swagger.?
?There are four or maybe even five stage I think can end in a bunch sprint and I?ll be targeting them. Even if it?s not a bunch sprint we?ve got some one who can target the win, so it?s perfect.?
?I?m not going to waste energy on stages I can?t win, so I don?t care where I am on GC, even if I?m lantern rouge so be it, as long as I can those stages.?
BETTER THAN IN 2007
Cavendish had an emotional and painful Tour debut in 2007, crashing on the first road stage to Canterbury and suffering in the first week of the race.
Twelve months on he is older, wiser, faster and stronger.
?I?m able to enjoy the Tour a lot more this year because I?ve made a conscious effort not to get carried away with everything that is going on. I?m a lot calmer and a lot more relaxed and I?m going to have a lot more energy because of that. I?ve matured a lot in the last 12 months,? he said.
?Winning in the Giro helped my confidence and also knocked that of the other sprinters. Now I?ve got a psychological edge on them with how fast I am in the sprints. That plays into my favour.?
?Obviously the Tour is a lot different to every other bike race, there are guys looking for stage wins and then there are the GC riders all trying to stay at the front. It makes it a hell of a lot faster, five or six kilometres faster for the last 50km, that makes the whole feel of the race a lot different.?
COLUMBIA?S STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Cavendish will share sprinting responsibility at the Tour de France with Gerald Ciolek and Bernhard Eisel, and have the support from riders like George Hincapie.
?I?ve shown that I can get results on my own like Robbie McEwen does but the Tour is quite different, I learned that last year. You can jump, jump, jump but it makes it a lot easier if you?ve got a team behind you,? Cavendish explained.
?When you?ve got a great team to help you stay near the front and faster riders to help you in the end and keep you up there it works out perfectly and hopefully we can win. We?ve got both Bernhard and Gerald as well, and both can win stages. We?ll see how it goes. The good thing about this team is that we all trust each other 100% so whatever order we go in, that fine and we?ll come out with a result.?
George Hincapie: going for stage wins himself, and helping the Columbia sprinters
Cav rules out stage one bid
Cavendish: Four realistic chances in Tour’s first week
Columbia unveil new jersey at Tour team presentation
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE|