The stats, they say, never lie so it seems as good a place as any to start by comparing the results since January of Cavendish and Kittel.
So far this season, the two have thirteen sprint victories between them, with the British champion having racked up one more than his German rival.
Of those victories, the most prestigious belong to Kittel, who has won both road stages of the season’s first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia.
Though Cavendish and Greipel are absent, Kittel has still had to beat the likes of Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr), Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and the in-form Ben Swift (Team Sky).
It also gives Kittel the edge in terms of WorldTour wins, with Cavendish boasting just the final road stage of Tirreno-Adriatico at pro cycling’s top level to his name this season.
Instead, the Manx Missile has racked up five wins at 2.HC level – four in the Tour of Turkey and his one in the Tour of California – and one at the 2.1-classified Volta ao Algarve.
Kittel, on the other hand, won all three road stages in Dubai, ranked 2.1 by the UCI and has a record-equalling third victory at Scheldeprijs to complete his collection. He also won the People’s Choice Classic, a non-UCI city centre criterium ahead of the Tour Down Under.
Both have suffered their disappointments, too, with Kittel failing to record a single victory at the Tour Down Under or at Tirreno-Adriatico, while Cavendish missed out in Dubai and suffered illness at Tirreno-Adriatico before coming back strongly to win the penultimate stage.