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Viviani: Cavendish’s Tour/Olympics/worlds goals ‘too much’

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Jan. 14, 2016
  • Updated Jan. 14, 2016 at 10:50 AM EDT
Mark Cavendish has some wide-ranging goals for this season. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Mark Cavendish’s plan to win the yellow Jersey at the Tour de France, a gold medal at the Olympics, and the rainbow jersey at the world championships this year is “too much,” according to Sky rival Elia Viviani.

The three events fall within a three-month window, with the Olympic omnium in Rio de Janeiro only three weeks after the Tour ends. The worlds road race is October 16 in Doha, Qatar.

“I think it’s too much. The Tour de France is so close to the Olympic Games,” Viviani said this week, according to Sky Sports.

“He can do it because, after the Tour de France, he will have really good condition, but he will pay in the kilo [the 1km time trial, which is the fourth of the six events]. At the Olympics, you cannot afford to pay too much in the kilo because losing 20 points in the kilo, you are not out, because all races you can win, but you need to be 100 percent in all six specialities, so it’s more difficult.”

The Tour ends July 24 in Paris and the omnium, which should also include 26-year-old Viviani, begins August 14.

Experts consider Cavendish cycling’s top sprinter. In 2012, French newspaper L’Equipe named him the best sprinter in Tour history. He now counts 26 stage wins in the race. He also has 15 Giro d’Italia stage victories, the 2009 Milano-Sanremo win, a rainbow jersey from the 2011 worlds, and many other triumphs.

With his new Dimension Data team, the 30-year-old wants to win the first stage of the Tour in northwest France and wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career. He failed on two other occasions, held up by a crash in 2013 and tumbling himself in 2014. Shortly after, he aims for an equally elusive gold medal. In the 2008 Beijing Games, Madison partner Bradley Wiggins was in form, and in the 2012 London Games, the road race tactics worked against him.

Some people, including Viviani, say the load and switching from the road to the track could be too much. The Italian is one of the few road professionals who mixes road and track racing. He won a stage in the Giro last year and silver medals at the track worlds.

“I think he is competitive and it is easy to come back [to the track from the road], but you have to work a lot, specifically for the omnium in the month or two months before,” Viviani said. “I think he can be competitive [in the omnium], but he needs to focus only on this.”

Cavendish is racing a track World Cup event in Hong Kong to qualify for the Olympics and may race the track worlds in March. He must also focus on leading his new team, which he joined for three years this winter. Not only that, he is dealing with improved rivals like Marcel Kittel of Etixx – Quick-Step, André Greipel of Lotto – Soudal, and Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff.

Cavendish will kick off his season at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 31 before continuing to the Dubai Tour, which starts February 3.

“I think Cavendish is again the best sprinter in the world now. If we see what ‘Cav’ has won, no sprinter has won the same races,” Viviani added. “I think he is the best again and, also with the new team, I think he will be back to winning a lot this season.”

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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