Mark Cavendish has described being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List as “A massive honour,” and says that the timing of next year’s Olympic road race means that he should be in perfect form to challenge for the gold medal at London 2012.
The HTC-Highroad sprinter, who in last month’s Giro d’Italia won his 25th Grand Tour individual stage, said: "It is a massive honour for me to be recognised like this - it is not often that a cyclist is honoured without winning an Olympic medal,” reports the website sportinglife.com.
"It is a great list of names that have been honoured and for me to be alongside them is massive for me,” he continued.
"Cycling is growing and I am more known now, but I don't do this for any celebrity status, I do it for the love of the sport.
"To know that cycling is getting recognised makes me massively proud."
The 26-year-old currently has 15 Tour de France stage wins to his name and has won the final stage on the Champs-Elysées – often dubbed ‘the sprinters’ world championship’ for the past two years, although he has not yet managed to win the points classification.
That’s something Cavendish intends to change, although changes to the way points are awarded – this year there will only be one intermediate sprint per stage, but it will be worth 20 points to the winner – may count against him, effectively creating a race-within-a-race, even on the mountain stages.
"The Tour de France is in three weeks and I will be aiming for more stages in that and the green jersey, and the World Championships in Copenhagen are another big goal for me,'' he explained.
"I won't be changing much in my professional season in the build-up to the Olympics because I'm a professional athlete and I have to do my job.
"Not changing my preparation will be the best thing for the Olympics - the road race falls one week after the Tour de France finishes, so I should be on really good form for that.
"At the Olympics there will be pressure to try to get Britain off to a good start. But we have a strong team and I am looking forward to it.''
Cavendish’s Tour de France preparations continue with his participation in the Tour de Suisse, which starts today with an individual time trial – at 7.3km, most it’s really a prologue – around Lake Lugano.
Last year, Cavendish was fined after he was ruled to be at fault for a high-speed crash that took out Heinrich Haussler as the pair vied for a sprint, the incident ending the Cervelo-TestTeam rider’s season.
However, the Manxman last night explained on Twitter that there was little prospect of a repeat of that type of incident this year, saying “Just saw race handbook for TourDeSuisse. No chance of another.. ahem.. mishap between Haussler & myself. BECAUSE THERE'S NO F*CKING SPRINTS.”
At some point of course Cavendish will have to take time out of his schedule to visit Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE. We’re guessing that appointment will prove easier to arrange compared to the two and a half years it took to schedule a date for him to receive the Freedom of the Borough of Douglas on his native Isle of Man, which he finally picked up earlier this year.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.