Giro moto blog: Cavendish, the world champ

Luke Evans writes from the Giro d’Italia, where he is moto pilot for photographer Graham Watson

I’ve been wanting to say something about Mark Cavendish since the start of the year, when I first saw him in the rainbow jersey on a team Sky training camp in Majorca and at the Tour of Qatar.

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Thursday’s stage was the last chance for him take the sprint victory and after a super fast (nearly 50kph average) day with lots of grafting from his team mates Cav, I hate to say it, was soundly beaten by up-and-coming young Italian, Guardini.

In this race we have been taking a lot of pictures of Cav, not just winning his three stages and wearing the red sprinter’s jersey, but in the rainbow colours which he is so proud to show off to his many Italian fans.

We have taken shots of him chatting to team mates, to rival sprinters and to his DS in the Team Sky Jag. Riding a metre away from the team car we have snapped him shoving bottles down his back to hand out to team mates on stages when he has mucked in as a ‘gregarious’. And pacing back one of the two Colombian climbers who have been GC contenders here. How many world champions do you see doing that?

We have recorded the times when the TV cameras are many minutes up the road and he is toiling up yet another brutal climb, zigzagging up the road in a grim personal battle to make the finish before the time cut.

He takes the same risks on the descents where one mistake can pitch over the edge and he has to weave and dodge the long motorised snake whipping along for a solid kilometre behind the race every he stops for a pee.

We are in his face a fair bit but he never complains or shouts at us, and we do get pretty damn close at times. He knows that as GB’s road race world champion he is the centre of attention and that comes with the job.

Cav is meeting the responsibilities of state like a true champion, and it’s on a day like yesterday that you realise how much pressure he is under as an there as well, just to do his job of winning races in field sprints. He is finishing the Giro even if he doesn’t win the points jersey. Not sure Cipo would have done that.

For those of us of a certain age, too young to remember the last GB world champ (Tom Simpson in 1965) but old enough to remember the barren years in the run up to the start of this century, Cav’s world title is something very special indeed.

It won’t last much longer either and I get a buzz every time I see him in the rainbow colours. It can’t help bring out the fan in me – the world road race champion is a Brit and if I never see another I consider myself lucky and privileged to have seen him in action.

I must go the children’s tea party, or breakfast as it’s known in Italy. Sugared doughnuts with sprinkles, cakes, biscuits, croissants with jam inside (which you realise after cutting open a shoving some ham in there), I really won’t miss the overload of sweet stuff. And why do we have to eat cereal out of an ash tray with a tea spoon? Looking forward to tea and toast and Marmite again.

It looks like the Suzuki might just (the clutch is slipping on steep climbs) make it to Milan and with luck home by Monday night so I’d just like to thank Bruce and everyone at Demon Tweeks for some essential parts and to Stu and Jay at Fast Lane motorcycles in Tonbridge for fitting them. Thanks!