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CERVERE, Italy (VN) – Mark Cavendish kicked to an impressive victory in Friday’s 13th stage at the Giro d’Italia and says he’s still hoping to ride all the way to Milan.
Despite rumors that the world champion was expected to join others on the “sprinter’s express” out of the Giro, Cavendish said he still hopes to ride to Milan and win the red point’s jersey.
“I am feeling OK. If I do not get time cut (in the mountains), I do not see myself going home just yet,” Cavendish said. “When I came to this Giro, I planned 100 percent to go to Milan and I plan to win the red jersey. With the crashes I’ve had, I still do not have a plan to go home. That crash on the third day, it took me a week to recover from that. It really put me on the edge.”
On Friday, Cavendish was showing none of the signs of a pair of heavy crashes in the first week of the Giro.
The flat, straight run into the finish line at Cervere saw Team Sky face serious challenges from Saxo Bank and then Orica-GreenEdge to place its sprinters in position for the final sprint.
GreenEdge butted Cavendish off the front wheel with just under one kilometer to go, but Cavendish still managed to pick his way through a frenetic finale to win his third stage of this Giro. Cavendish was being squeezed up against the fences on his left side, even having to momentarily ease off the gas, before opening up his sprint with 150 meters to go to win by a bike-length to Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
One French journalist congratulated Cavendish, calling it his best sprint of his career. The Manxster just shrugged and said, “I’m only at 60 percent.”
Cavendish has used his finesse and his untouchable top-end speed to win three times at this year’s Giro, something that might be seen as a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France. Come July, Cavendish knows he will not have the entire team at his disposal as Team Sky will be looking to win the yellow jersey with Bradley Wiggins.
“To be fair, we were out-led by GreenEdge today. I was lucky that Gossie [Matt Goss] opened the door for me, but after looking at the helicopter shot, I could see he was shutting down [Mark] Renshaw on the right,” he said. “The team was super today, but we’ve learned something from today. Peter [Kenough] needs to stay farther from the barriers to give G [Geraint Thomas] more space. … I was happy with it.”
Cavendish has taken a few shots in the media from ex-pro Mario Cipollini, who has criticized Cavendish for being overweight and unprofessional in his attitude throughout the Giro. To that, Cavendish just laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
“I do not worry about that,” he said laughing. “I’ve won 20 stages in the Tour. Milan-San Remo at 23. The world title at 26. …. This is my job. It’s that simple. I make a good living from it. This is the jersey that I’ve dreamed of wearing. I want to make it proud. I didn’t want this rainbow jersey curse shit going on.”
With three wins in the Giro, there’s no doubt that Cavendish is still the fastest in the bunch, but whether he rides all the way to Milan remains to be seen.