Manxman kicks off season with month-long block of racing in the Middle East
Mark Cavendish has “no expectations” of getting wins in his first race of the season in Dubai.
The Manxman, who raced only 47 days last season due to illness and injury, said: “Your form is always an unknown it doesn’t matter how well you’ve trained or how fit you think you are, you don’t know until you step out and race. There’s no expectation from myself, no expectation from the team [of results].”
The Dimension Data captain will have plenty of opportunity to find out as four of the five stages of the Dubai Tour are likely to end in a bunch sprint – Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) has won the overall title the last two years.
Several of Cavendish’s key rivals in Dubai, Kittel, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) are on new teams this season having transferred over the winter.
However, Cavendish didn’t see the stability in his own set-up – he will race alongside long-time lieutenants Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel – as a huge advantage.
“It’s all the same teams just different guys on the end of things, I don’t bother myself thinking about it too much… I think compared to the other teams we’ve not come with full [sprint] team; the plan is to build up the whole team,” he said.
When asked what he’d be looking out for in his rival’s new set-ups, he said: “Nothing apart from the obvious, you look at how they all like to work, If I say any more I’d be giving away secrets.”
Cavendish had planned to do just the Dubai and Abu Dhabi tours over the next month but opted to race Oman as well.
“I’d have the same workload if I went home than if I ride Oman anyway so it makes sense to stay here and do Oman, there’s less travelling that way,” he said. “I love the UAE, I spend a lot of time here both professionally and privately.”
The rest of Cavendish’s season is still in the balance, though he said he wants to race Paris-Roubaix, in a large part to support team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen who hopes to get a good result.
“It’s one of the only races I can really support my team-mates,” he said.
He may also ride Milan-San Remo, which he won in 2009, though that is yet to be decided.