Mark Cavendish’s next win at the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, or even at the Tour de France next month, may be hard to achieve. His HTC-Highroad team is balancing its sprint and overall classification ambitions at both races.
“I am not going to lie, it’s not the same team we had in the team in the past,” Cavendish said when asked by Cycling Weekly in a post-race press conference.
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His HTC team helped him win his sixth Giro d’Italia stage yesterday in Teramo.
“In terms of heart and commitment, it’s the same team. It terms of the ability, the strengths and the experience of a lead out train, it’s not. I think we took for granted that we won everything. Now, yes, we win, but not the same as we did before. It’s not because of a lack of commitment.”
Some of his lead-out men have left Bob Stapleton’s HTC team in recent years. George Hincapie helped Cavendish win 10 of his 15 Tour de France wins, but signed for BMC Racing at the start of last year.
“Hincapie, [Edvald Boasson] Hagen…” he continued, “guess they don’t get paid enough.”
Cavendish’s contract with Stapleton expires at the end of this year. He may re-new or he may switch to Sky or another top team. Regardless, the team is trying to find the right mix of riders for the Tour de France.
“We have some GC riders now,” HTC directeur sportif Valerio Piva told Cycling Weekly. “It’s difficult to bring an entire team for a sprinter or an entire team for the GC.”
Yesterday, though, Cavendish survived thanks to “heart and commitment”. Lars Bak and others worked in the early kilometres, while Alex Rasmussen and Mark Renshaw took over in the final kilometres.
Rasmussen led with three kilometres to Teramo. Renshaw pulled Cavendish into position, dropped him on the wheel of rival Alessandro Petacchi and led in the final kilometre. Cavendish won ahead of Francisco Ventoso and Alessandro Petacchi, but it was a balancing act considering the team has Belarusian Kanstantsin Siutsou in second overall.
“The team is not as strong as past years; they keep trying with two swords, the general and sprinter. We’ve got ‘Kasta’ who’s second on GC, that’s great and we can’t expect him to work,” Renshaw told Cycling Weekly.
“We used two to three guys at the start and two or three guys in the final 20K. It’s really difficult.”
HTC faces its next sprint stage, the final one in the Giro, tomorrow in Ravenna. Today, though, it must look after Kasta’s overall position. He sits 59 seconds behind race leader Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank).
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Giro d’Italia 2011: Stage reports
Giro d’Italia 2011: Photo galleries
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Giro d’Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d’Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d’Italia 2011: TV schedule