Mark Cavendish has played down talk that he would refuse the opportunity to ride the Tour de France due to contractual issues, saying that he has joined a training camp in Italy having packed for the race.
The British rider was not expected to ride the French Grand Tour when he re-joined Deceuninck – Quick-Step at the start of the year, but four wins at the Tour of Turkey and a victory at the Belgium Tour last week have seen a return to form.
Coupled with the ongoing knee injury to the team’s leading sprinter Sam Bennett, and there is an ever-increasing chance of Cavendish riding his first Tour since 2018.
The Manxman rebuffed suggestions that he would demand more money to ride the Tour, telling the Daily Telegraph (opens in new tab): “I’ve packed a suitcase for the Tour de France.
“I don’t know whether I’m going away for a week or a month, but I’m training as if I’m going to the Tour de France.
“I’d love to go to the Tour, of course I would. Ultimately we have Sam Bennett who won two stages last year and the green jersey.
“He’s the logical guy to take. He’s the sprint leader of the team. But I’m sure Sam will only go if he’s 100 percent fit.
“Obviously there is a lot of pressure on him as the green jersey winner to perform. I’m sure he will do what’s best for the team. Sam is a pro. I just have to be ready in case I’m needed.”
A decision on who Deceuninck – Quick-Step will decide to take as sprinter will have to be made in the coming days, with the Tour beginning on June 26.
If things go their way, it looks like there will be eight opportunities for sprinters in the race, and should Cavendish be called upon he has not ruled himself out of adding to his 30 stage wins.
“Nobody expects me to win. But, listen, I wouldn’t go to the Tour if I didn’t think I could be competitive,” the 36-year-old added.
“Why would I go otherwise? Just to suffer in the hardest sporting event in the world? No. I’m not 20 anymore where I just dream of riding the Tour de France for the sake of it.
“I dream of riding the Tour de France because of what it means to me and because I believe I can be competitive. That’s why I have a duty to be as prepared as I can be in case Sam doesn’t make it.
“Ultimately, I didn’t think I was going so I haven’t prepared for it but now I have to prepare the best I can in a week.”
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