Olympic road race a chance to make Britain roar, says Mark Cavendish
World champion kicks off 2012 with 70-mile training ride in the Essex rain
While many of us were nursing hangovers yesterday after seeing in 2012 in style, Mark Cavendish started off the year in which he aims to add Olympic gold in London in July to the world championship he won in Copenhagen last year with a 70-mile training ride in the Essex countryside.
The 26-year-old, officially a Team Sky rider as of yesterday, also tweeted a picture of himself in the rainbow jersey he’ll be sporting between now and September, although for now at least his new Pinarello bike is in the team colours of black and blue.
He didn’t let pouring rain deter him from training either, although he did joke on Twitter, “Mother Nature must've had a big New Years Eve. She just took 1 of those massive long hangover pisses. For the last 90mins of my ride.”
In the Olympic road race on Saturday 28 July, Cavendish, who won the test event last August, has a chance to secure what will be the first gold medal awarded at London 2012 to get Great Britain’s Games off to a flying start.
"This is about more than sport," Cavendish told The Sun, which has also published pictures of him in his new world champion’s jersey. "This is our chance, as Britain, to roar, to show the world what we are capable of. I'm not mucking about.
"This is a great and proud nation and the Olympics are taking place in our own back yard. I'm not going to miss my chance to be a part of it and, whatever happens in that race, I'm going into it as prepared as possible.
"I have four team-mates with me who will be doing the same, so if I don't give it my all I'm letting them down."
The Manxman, who now lives in Essex with former Page 3 model Peta Todd who is expecting the couple’s first child, told the newspaper that yesterday’s outing was much shorter than his typical training ride.
"When I'm training full gas I will ride for six or seven hours, doing 120 miles. I burn around 5,000 calories a day when I'm in that mode,” he explained.
At a time of year when many people, following the excesses of the festive season, are heading into the New Year with the aim of laying off the treats to shed a few pounds, Cavendish revealed that he is careful about what he eats.
"I love food and obviously I have a large calorie deficit to fill after training like that but I don't just fill it with any old stuff.
"I stick to healthy foods like fish and vegetables. I have rice milk instead of dairy milk because it's easier to digest and better for you.
"Mind you, any athlete who claims to constantly eat a zero fat diet is either lying or sick in the head. I enjoy puddings, I've got a sweet tooth and it's not right to totally deny yourself.
"My weight can drop to 10½ stone during something like the Tour de France, which is three weeks of intensive racing.
"Of course, there is a lot of sacrifice,” he continued. “I never get drunk. In my mind I think of booze as calories and ask myself would I rather the glass of wine or a bar of chocolate. The bar of chocolate wins in my book."
This year, besides the Olympic road race, Cavendish will also be seeking to defend the green jersey he won in last July’s Tour de France, but off the bike there’s another date that looms large in the calendar.
"My thoughts are on what's ahead of me, not just in terms of sport — I've got my little girl arriving in April. When Olympics day arrives, I'll be riding for her as well as the country," he added.