Mark Cavendish’s desire to win the first stage of next year’s Tour de France may have been cranked up a notch after Tour organisers ASO announced the 2015 edition will begin with a time trial.
The Manx Missile has already outlined his ambition to cap Yorkshire’s Grand Depart with victory in Harrogate – his mother’s hometown – next year.
But the pressure to do so may have increased following the ASO’s announcement, which could make next year’s opening stage the sprinter’s last, best chance to pull on the prestigious yellow jersey, for the foreseeable future, at least.
Despite having topped the points classification at all three Grand Tours, and worn the leader’s jersey at both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, the Manx Missile has never pulled on the fabled maillot jaune.
Starting among the favourites for the flat opening stage in Corsica last year, Cavendish saw his hopes of completing his collection of leader’s jerseys dashed when he was caught behind the huge crash which marred the concluding kilometres.
However, with a flat route unveiled for next year’s Grand Depart, the Manx Missile has been presented with a second chance – one which could now be his last as Tour organisers revert to the more traditional start against the clock in 2015.
Utrecht’s Grand Depart will feature a 13.7km time trial – which organisers have stressed prevents it from being classified as a prologue, a designation capped at eight kilometres.
Described by the ASO as a ‘pancake-flat course entirely within the city’, the stage could instead suit Fabian Cancellara – the Swiss star having won on the last four occasions the Tour has started with a time trial.