Mark Cavendish relishes sprint chances at Tour de France 2015

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Mark Cavendish relishes ‘outstanding’ sprint opportunities at 2015 Tour de France

Manxman believes route presents ample chances for racking up stage wins

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) believes there will be ample opportunity for sprint success at next year’s Tour de France after attending yesterday’s route presentation.

Cavendish was in Paris with Omega Pharma-Quickstep sport director Wilfried Peeters and fellow sprinters Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

Mark Cavendish believes there will be ample opportunity for the sprinters at the 2015 Tour de France, having attended yesterday’s presentation (pic: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

And after crashing out of this year’s race in Harrogate – denying him the chance to add to his 25 career stage wins – Cavendish is pleased with the route for the 2015 race, which will roll out of Utrecht on Saturday July 4.

“The number of chances for a sprint at this Tour are outstanding for me,” he said. “I’m quite happy with this Tour.

“A lot of the starts and finishes we’ve done before at past editions of the Tour de France. It’s a flattish first week, which is good for the sprinters.

“There are few good opportunities for the sprint in the first week, plus two more occasions in the last two weeks including the Champs-Élysées. I won on the Champs four times and I’m looking forward to trying again.”

The race starts with a time trial after two consecutive years which has seen a road stage determine the destination of the first yellow jersey.

Kittel was victorious on both occasions, denying Cavendish the one major jersey he is still yet to wear, but Peeters thinks the sprinters may get another chance this year.

With the time trial just 14 kilometres in length, if a sprinter is close to the overall lead for stage two – where strong North Sea winds are expected to play a part – Peeters believes opportunities may still come.

“It will be a nervous peloton with this parcours,” he said. “Every day something can happen, as is the Tour tradition.

Mark Cavendish is keen to add to his four stage wins on the Champs-Elysees, after Marcel Kittel won on the famous avenue in the last two years (Pic: Sirotti)

“The time trial at the beginning is not so long and it will keep the door open to the sprinters or classic riders to try to get the yellow jersey, especially with the second stage at Zeeland, that can be conditioned by wind.

“On paper it will be a spectacular Tour de France.”

Cavendish was also handed a boost as race director Christian Prudhomme confirmed an overhaul to the scoring system for the points classification.

The new system puts more emphasis on the stage winners on the flat stages and could see the likes of 2011 winner Cavendish or Kittel push three-time reigning green jersey winner Peter Sagan all the way.

And Cavendish admits he is relishing the challenge of tackling the route after the premature end to his Tour this year.

“It’s still going to be hard, we’ll still be going full gas every day,” he said. “But if there are windy conditions in any stages that first week, we’ve got the best team in the world to handle that as we’ve shown in past Tours de France.

“Omega Pharma-Quickstep is filled with strong guys that know how to animate races, particularly in crosswinds. I’m more excited about those possibilities than nervous.

Cavendish holds court after abandoning this year’s Tour de France. The Manx Missile is keen to bounce back next year (pic: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

“This Tour leaves good chances for sprinters and plenty for GC riders as well. We’re going to focus on what I need to do, and what OPQS needs to do to win some stages.

“Last year my team did great even without me there, and I was in great form before I crashed. So, I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do at the 2015 Tour de France with this route, riding for a strong team like Omega Pharma-Quickstep.”

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