Mark Cavendish hopes ‘crush this year’ to help make Etixx-QuickStep the most successful team on the WorldTour, as the Manx Missile looks to bounce back from an injury-hit 2014 with Tour de France success.
Cavendish spoke to the media as the Belgian super team, who have changed headline sponsors from Omega Pharma to nutrition supplier Etixx for 2015, was presented in Calpe, Spain.
And the former world champion hopes to play his part in ‘crushing’ the year by sprinting to Tour de France stage success, after his 2014 race was ended by a crash on the finishing straight in Harrogate on stage one.
“We’ve got big aims, we’re the team that won the most last year,” Cavendish said. “Etixx-QuickStep wants to do the same this year.
“Obviously the Tour de France is my biggest goal, it is every year and 2015 is no exception.
“I’d like to go and crush this year and be able to be successful with Etixx-QuickStep, as they were last year. I’d be super proud of that.”
Alongside 25-time Tour de France stage winner Cavendish, Etixx-QuickStep will also have the rainbow jersey in its ranks in 2015 after Polish ace Michal Kwiatkowski’s victory in Ponferrada last September.
Kwiatkowski will start his season alongside Cavendish at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, but his target for the opening half of the season is success in the Ardennes Classics, having finished fifth, third and third in the 2014 Amstel Gold race, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege respectively.
Having started last year in fine form, Kwiatkowski found success hard to come by in the latter part of the season before roaring back into form in time for the World Championships.
And the 24-year-old is relishing the prospect of racing in the rainbow stripes.
“I’m looking forward to racing with the rainbow jersey,” he said. “As of now things are going well. I’m healthy and trying to get stronger day-by-day.
“I’m looking forward to the upcoming races. I will say that this year, the early races will be more of a focus on preparation with my condition.
“I will try and focus on just getting in better condition in anticipation of the Ardennes Classics, which is the objective of the first part of the year. I hope I will be able to do something better than last year.
“I just love racing there and hope that can be a successful first part of my season.”
Team-mate Tony Martin will not race as world time trial champion for the first time since 2011 after Sir Bradley Wiggins beat him to the top step of the podium in Ponferrada.
And Der Panzerwagen, who enjoyed a string of successes in 2014 as he proved himself as far more than just a time trial specialist, is determined to win back his world title this season.
The German’s goals stretch throughout the season, with stage race success – buoyed by his near-miss at the Tour de Suisse last season – and the first yellow jersey of the 2015 Tour de France top of his wishlist.
“I would like to do well in the spring stage races, such as Paris-Nice, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and Tour de Romandie,” he said. “I’d like to go for the GC like I did at Tour de Suisse in 2014.
“Then of course the big goal is the prologue of the Tour de France, to win and hopefully take the yellow jersey.
“Then, at the end, I’d like to take back the UCI world title in the time trial and help the team fight for another UCI World Team Time Trial Championship.”
Etixx-QuickStep’s all-star line-up also includes former world champion and cobbled Classics legend Tom Boonen, who is keen to secure Monument success on the pavé in 2015 after missing out last year.
With team-mate and reigning Paris-Roubaix champion Niki Terpstra having warmed up for the season with Six-Day track success alongside Iljo Keisse, the Belgian super team again looks to be the team to beat in the spring.
And Boonen believes he just needs a little slice of fortune to add more prestigious victories to his impressive palmares, which includes three Tour of Flanders victories and four Paris-Roubaix triumphs.
“The only thing I need this year is a little more luck in 2015,” Boonen said. “I hope to go for good results early in the season and keep winning up until April.
“Of course Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix have been the main goal since 2012. It’s the same plan as it always is. Just go maximum into those races and do my best to win.”
Terpstra added: “Now I have developed some race speed [after racing on the track]. I have already a good feeling and I hope to keep this feeling until the Classics period of the season.”