Mark Cavendish says he may never ride Milan-San Remo again

2009 winner says route changes mean he'll definitely skip next year's race - big 2014 target is Tour de France yellow jersey in his mum's home town

by Simon_MacMichael   December 5, 2013  

Mark Cavenidsh signs on for 2013 Milan-San Remo (copyyright Gian Mattia D'Alberto, LaPresse)

Mark Cavendish, who in 2009 won Milan-San Remo by a tyre’s width from Heinrich Haussler, says he may have ridden the Italian early season Classic for the last time, and won’t be riding next year’s race. His big target for 2014 will instead be to win the opening stage of the Tour de France in Harrogate to get into the race leader’s yellow jersey.

That Milan San-Remo victory by Cavendish nearly five years ago was the first by a British rider in a Monument since the late Tom Simpson – the only other man from the British Isles to have won the race – triumphed in the Giro di Lombardia in 1965.

But Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider Cavendish has told Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport that a change in the route for 2014 means he will definitely skip next year’s edition, and may never ride it again unless the course returns to the way it was – leaving that 2009 win as his sole victory in the race.

A new ascent, the Pompeiana, 5km long at an average gradient of 5 per cent but reaching 14 per cent at one point, comes between the late climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio, and could make it all but impossible for pure sprinters such as Cavendish to contest the finale.

Since taking that landmark victory in the 2009 race, Cavendish has made it his big early season target but has come away frustrated each time.

Last year with Sky, he started favourite and had high hopes of winning the race in the rainbow jersey of world champion, only to get dropped on the climb of Le Manie – which from next year, disappears from the route.

In March this year, following a race interrupted by heavy snowfall that necessitated a bus transfer to cut out the Passo del Turchino and Le Manie, Cavendish finished ninth, 14 seconds down on a seven-man front group led across the line by MTN-Qhubeka’s Gerald Ciolek. 

Cavendish was speaking at McLaren’s headquarters in Woking – he arrived in a McLaren F1 gifted to him by Specialized owner Mike Sinyard when he won the world championship in Copenhagen in 2011 – where he was taking part in a wind tunnel test arranged by the American bike brand.

Also there were fellow Specialized riders Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo and Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, who placed third in Milan-San Remo in 2012 but who believes the new parcours gives him an opportunity to win the race and has even sounded out his team’s bike sponsor about having a frame specially designed for it.

Referring to the revised route, reigning Giro d’Italia champion Nibali said: “San Remo will be played out differently. I need to find the time to go and try out the climb of the Pompeiana. Last year, without the crisis caused by the cold weather, I’d have attacked on the Cipressa. Next year I’d like to try again.”

While Cavendish told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he may ride the Giro d’Italia next May – the opening stage in Belfast is likely to be the closest he’ll ever be to his native Isle of Man while racing in a Grand Tour – his sights are firmly set on taking Stage 1 of the Tour de France when Yorkshire hosts the Grand Départ of the 101st edition in May.

That opening stage starts in Leeds but finishes in his mother’s home town, Harrogate.

Earlier this week, the 28-year-old told BBC Sport he was “super excited” about the race returning to Britain for the first time since the year he made his debut in an event in which he has since racked up 25 stage wins.

“It’s the second time in my career the Tour will be coming to the UK,” he said.

“Last time the crowds were phenomenal, it was my first Tour de France in 2007. But two stages in Yorkshire [in 2014] then one down into London finishing on The Mall, I think it’s going to be incredible.

“The amount of people who came out to watch in 2007 when cycling wasn’t even that big and then you look at more than a million people at the Olympics last year, I’m so excited.

“The pros still talk about London being the best Grand Départ that they’ve had, but I think next year’s going to top that for sure.

“My mum comes from Harrogate, a lot of my family still lives there, I spent many times there as a kid. I know the finish straight, it is going to be a sprint and a chance to wear the yellow jersey.”

It’s something missing from the CV of Cavendish, who this year became the fifth man to win the points competition in all three Grand Tours and who has also worn the leader’s jersey at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.

“I haven’t yet worn the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, I had the opportunity this year but a crash stopped that, so to be able to that in my mum’s home town, it’s sweet, it will be a big goal, probably the single most important day of the year,” he added.

14 user comments

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Good luck to him. It would be great to see a Brit in yellow for at least a day when the race visits our shores.

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

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posted by badback [268 posts]
5th December 2013 - 11:45

33 Likes

Definitely! T'would be awesome Big Grin

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
5th December 2013 - 13:22

28 Likes

He doesn't stand a chance unfortunately.

Everyone is going to jump on him and his team the second he makes a move.

His best bet is for his train to disintegrate near the end and rely on his ability to jump from wheel to wheel if there is any chaos.

The person that beats him to the win will get serious coverage in this country as "the rider that defeated Cavendish", you can bet your arsehoop there are sponsors who are screamingly desperate for it to be their names splashed all over that rider.

posted by farrell [1520 posts]
5th December 2013 - 13:53

25 Likes

farrell wrote:
He doesn't stand a chance unfortunately.

Everyone is going to jump on him and his team the second he makes a move.

His best bet is for his train to disintegrate near the end and rely on his ability to jump from wheel to wheel if there is any chaos.

The person that beats him to the win will get serious coverage in this country as "the rider that defeated Cavendish", you can bet your arsehoop there are sponsors who are screamingly desperate for it to be their names splashed all over that rider.

Cav has won many races when he is the marked man. The thing about him and other winners is that they don't go into events with the negative doubts.

Ride more, ride better

posted by Sniffer [134 posts]
5th December 2013 - 13:59

23 Likes

Just out of interest - just Cav really have a McLaren F1?

I knew about the McLaren 12C that was produced in "Cavendish Green"... has there been a confusion?

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posted by Gizmo_ [897 posts]
5th December 2013 - 14:14

25 Likes

Gizmo_ wrote:
Just out of interest - just Cav really have a McLaren F1?

I knew about the McLaren 12C that was produced in "Cavendish Green"... has there been a confusion?

I wondered that. I'm sure Mike Sinyard's done alright for himself but I'd be surprised if he's in a position to be giving an F1 away!

posted by Chuck [393 posts]
5th December 2013 - 14:31

16 Likes

Sniffer wrote:
farrell wrote:
He doesn't stand a chance unfortunately.

Everyone is going to jump on him and his team the second he makes a move.

His best bet is for his train to disintegrate near the end and rely on his ability to jump from wheel to wheel if there is any chaos.

The person that beats him to the win will get serious coverage in this country as "the rider that defeated Cavendish", you can bet your arsehoop there are sponsors who are screamingly desperate for it to be their names splashed all over that rider.

Cav has won many races when he is the marked man. The thing about him and other winners is that they don't go into events with the negative doubts.

I have absolutely no doubts that Cav will be going in to this to win, however, there will be many more that are riding just to stop him.

This isn't just being a marked man in a normal stage, this is more akin to the Olympics.

posted by farrell [1520 posts]
5th December 2013 - 14:39

24 Likes

This isn't just being a marked man in a normal stage, this is more akin to the Olympics.

That is fair.

Maybe a slight difference that the Olympics is a 1 day race. Some teams will have the same objectives as Cav. Others, like Sky will not want be chasing him down as they focus on GC only.

Ride more, ride better

posted by Sniffer [134 posts]
5th December 2013 - 15:18

20 Likes

farrell wrote:

I have absolutely no doubts that Cav will be going in to this to win, however, there will be many more that are riding just to stop him.

This isn't just being a marked man in a normal stage, this is more akin to the Olympics.

Olympics was a lot less controlled though what with having a 5 man team, a 9 man team will be control things a lot easier, and the other 'pure sprinters' teams will be looking to bring it to a bunch finish.

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posted by glynr36 [472 posts]
5th December 2013 - 16:50

14 Likes

I see, I though it might have been a strop about the weather, but the course is the course, fair does I wasn't planning riding MSR either.



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bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1349 posts]
5th December 2013 - 17:20

17 Likes

Sky probably would let him go, perhaps some of their riders could possible do a little turn for him as mates but there are plenty of teams and riders who don't stand a chance in terms of GC or even points who will want to spoil the party.

The narrative is being written here as this being Cavendish's big day, on hometown hero in Yellow (I know, Isle of Man...). This is going to be a big, big media day in the UK and sponsors are going to want in.

Can OPQS keep control or chase down every break away? Going back to my repeated point of it being a big media day there are going to be tonnes of riders having a crack all over the shop. The other teams are going to sit back and say "Come on Quick Step, you want this to be your boys big day? Then you do all the work for it".

Nothing would make me prouder than seeing Cav win this I just can't see him doing it.

posted by farrell [1520 posts]
5th December 2013 - 17:21

11 Likes

Strangely I'm more interested in MSR, a race I've always fantasised about (more than sprint stages of TDF). I loved the old route, as it was a unique high-tension toss up between climber, attacking rouleur or pain tolerating non-climber/sprinter. That may be gone now.
I thought Ciolek's win this year was fantastic. I'll be less interested by grand tour usual suspects. Maybe I'm weird. But it was a best tactician wins race before.

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posted by aslongasicycle [309 posts]
5th December 2013 - 19:42

19 Likes

I don't understand all this chat about Cav winning stage 1 TdF 2014. The finish is proper hard. Two significant lumps in the last 1k and a tough uphill sprint to the line. Its a strong man's finish, it'll be every man for himself once past the Majestic hotel.

noobrakes

posted by zzk [16 posts]
5th December 2013 - 23:03

13 Likes

WC 2012 in Denmark wasn't exactly flat either!

posted by veseunr [282 posts]
6th December 2013 - 13:38

0 Likes