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Giro d'Italia

No Tour de France training for Mark Cavendish just yet, says coach

Cavendish and trainer Vasilis Anastopoulos not considering Tour preparation program as they go all-in for three full weeks at Giro d'Italia.

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POTENZA, Italy (VN) – The Tour de France is not on the training plan for Mark Cavendish just yet.

Cavendish’s coach and confidante Vasilis Anastopoulos told VeloNews they’ve not yet mapped a training plan that would see Cavendish competitive at the Tour as they put full focus on the Giro d’Italia.

“First things first we have to finish the Giro and see what condition Mark is in, and if he’s able to complete it,” Anastopoulos told VeloNews ahead of stage 5 this week. “The Giro is a big challenge, you never know what’s going to happen day by day. So we just have to finish the Giro then we’ll see.”

Cavendish is racing the Giro for the first time in nine years this month and scored a standout 16th corsa rosa stage win in Budapest’s “big start.”

Meanwhile, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Dutch dynamo Fabio Jakobsen is winning sprints in the Tour of Hungary as he dials in for the Tour this summer.

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Whether Cavendish is on Quick-Step’s Tour de France long-list is currently uncertain. Anastopoulos said he and his athlete aren’t currently considering a tilt at the Tour and a shot at topping “that” Merckx record while in the midst of the Giro grind.

“We’re just thinking about the Giro for the moment,” Anastopoulos said. “It’s all about the Giro and the stages here. He’s super happy he managed to win the third stage so now he’s looking forward to winning another stage here in Italy.”

Three weeks in Italy, no thoughts for France

Anastopoulos said Cavendish’s training for 2022 so far followed a similar template to that which made the Manx ready for his unforeseen Tour triumphs last year.

A pre-Giro training camp in Greece saw Cavendish mixing speed sessions on the track with climbing sessions on the road in a mirror of his Mediterranean form-finding mission last May.

However, last year, Cavendish and Anastopoulos hatched a plan that saw Cavendish train to be in shape for France in a June schedule that proved a masterstroke when teammate Sam Bennett was later sidelined.

Anastopoulos confirmed Thursday that the plan is currently for Cavendish to race the full three weeks of the Giro with no thought for the Tour. But with leadout ace and grupetto guide Michael Mørkøv abandoning ahead of Friday’s mountain stage, there’s every possibility of an early exit out of Italy.

Also read: Quick-Step breaks down the Cavendish no-show on Giro stage 5

“Of course, Mark had problems on that climb this week [stage 5 ed]. We just hope that he will progress as the race goes on and that he will be better in the climbing.,” Anastopoulos said.

“But for now, his priority is for stage wins. We already have one stage and that was his early target. If there are more stage wins that are coming, that will be really welcome, of course.”

Should Cavendish complete the three weeks of the Giro this month, recovering and rebuilding in time for the Tour de France could prove a tight turnaround.

There may be space in Patrick Lefevere’s Tour de France long-list given Julian Alaphilippe’s recent injury. Time will tell if Cavendish is on it.

‘He’s on a good level, that’s sure’

Cavendish kicked to the 16th Giro stage of his career in Budapest last weekend. Since then, the Manxman missed the target twice while Arnaud Démare made hay in the hurly-burly of the bunch sprint.

Anastopoulos remains confident of Cavendish’s form after a sprint win that many hailed as one of the best of the 36-year-old’s 154 sprint successes.

“We already this on the third stage that he won. He won the bunch sprint with a started 16-17-second sprint, so his form is quite OK,” he said.

“It’s hard to compare against previous levels, but we know for sure he’s good. Very good. Already from the start of the season, he won in Oman, he did a fantastic sprint in UAE, but he got a little bit sick at Tirreno but came back well – he won in Torino. He’s on a good level, that’s sure. We’re very happy.”

Cavendish now has a trio of tricky Giro stages to take on before a rest day reset Monday. From there, more sprints of the Italian variety lie in wait.

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