Mark Cavendish insists there’s more to 2012 than the Tour de France and Olympic Games, with the Manx Missile targetting a spread of victories like those added to his palmarès in 2009.
Cavendish will defend his green jersey in July and, less than a week later, is in line to become one of the poster boys of London 2012, with the 26-year-old favourite to win Great Britain’s first medal of the Games.
In 2009 Cavendish won Milan-San Remo and stages of the Tours of Qatar, California and Switzerland, Tirreno-Adriatico and Giro d’Italia before claiming six stages – his biggest haul to date – at the Tour de France.
And having enjoyed stints at Team Sky training camps in December and January, Cavendish is set to hit the ground running in 2012, making his debut for the British team in the Middle East before embarking on a packed race schedule.
“I’ve had a solid winter and I want to perform all through this year,” said Cavendish. “I’ll start things off with the Tours of Qatar and Oman then come back for the European one-day races. Then it’ll be the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Olympic Games.
“The last couple of seasons it’s always just been about the Tour de France but now I want to repeat 2009 where I was successful throughout the whole season and I don’t want to be chasing July. I want to know exactly where I am in May and June so I can perform my best at the Tour de France and the Olympics.
“I’d like to win Milan-San Remo again. I said when I won it last time in 2009 that I wanted to win it again in the world champion’s jersey – when I’ve got those rainbow bands.”
But Cavendish is under no illusions that outside of cycling’s inner circle, the clock is ticking towards July 27 and the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Less than 24 hours later and Cavendish could be standing on the top step of the podium having completed nine laps of Box Hill and sprinted to victory in front of Buckingham Palace on The Mall.
And while the Olympic road race is well down the list of cycling’s rich and varied honours list, Cavendish admits the opportunity to win gold in front of a home crowd is too good an opportunity to pass up.
“Yes, I’ve won National Championships, European Championships, World Championships, Commonwealth Championships, but this is the one thing that’s missing,” he added. I’m not focusing on the Olympics though purely because of that, I’m going because it’s in London, my own country, and we’re one of the favourites to win it.
“As a British citizen, the 2012 Olympics means a lot to me and I still get a lot of national pride whenever I pull on my Great Britain jersey. To do the nation proud, especially with it being the first gold medal on offer at the Games, is a big motivator for me.”