After a year juggling the track and the road, winning silver medals and wearing the Tour de France's yellow jersey, Mark Cavendish plans for a normal 2017 season. Team Dimension Data says, however, that it will not be 'boring'.
Cavendish could race for the overall in the Tour of Qatar, a second Milan-San Remo victory and a chance to become the most prolific Tour de France stage winner.
Dimension Data's performance manager Rolf Aldag told Cycling Weekly that "true" it will be a standard year for Cavendish, "but I don't think that Chris Froome gets bored winning the Tour de France.
"We do have goals that repeat themselves, but that's the nature of his [Cavendish] talent. If he wanted to focus on Liège-Bastogne-Liège next year, I'd raise my eyebrow and say, 'I know you're really talented, but that's going to be a big challenge.'"
The 31-year-old Manxman is still to end his 2016 season. He will race for nearly one more week in the Ghent Six-Day before pulling the plug.
The 2016 Cavendish vintage may have been the best yet. He set three goals: the Tour, the Olympics and back on the road in the World Championships. In the Tour, he won four stages and took the yellow jersey on day one. He said he was not happy with the Olympics and Worlds, that he could never be satisfied unless he wins, but he still managed to win a silver medal in the omnium and a silver medal in the Doha sprint behind Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).
"You never really knew if it was going to be possible, realistically everything being perfect, he could achieve those goals given the talent he has," Aldag added. "Mark proved all of that before, that he can ride on the track and win stages in the Tour de France."
So 2017 could be like exiting the Autobahn for a provincial country road. At least, it looks less complicated on paper without the need to squeeze in breaks and jet around for track events.
"The Tour de France has to be the goal, that's clear, but if you went from six goals to one goal the next year, that'd be too much," Aldag said.
"The obvious goals for him would be the Tour de France, Milan-San Remo again... If Qatar and Abu Dhabi are WorldTour, then that could be a goal for him. He could move far up the WorldTour ranking if he also wins San Remo."
Aldag, Cavendish and team boss Doug Ryder will play around with the smaller pieces of the puzzle once they establish the main goals. Those pieces could be a return to Roubaix, an appearance in the Giro d'Italia's first weeks and an end-of-season appearance at the Tour of Britain or the Vuelta a España.
Cavendish will not say it, but a secret goal could be to become the Tour's most successful stage winner. This year, he stepped ahead of Bernard Hinault and with 30, is racing towards Eddy Merckx's record 34 stage wins.
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