Questioning how to beat Mark Cavendish

Gregor Brown asks how Cav's rivals can top him and comes up with few answers

FROSINONE, Italy (VN) — Monday passed at the Giro d’Italia with Mark Cavendish (Sky) blocked and unable to unleash his sprint yet again, but the world champion should have another chance on Wednesday in Montecatini.

The British speedster spent Tuesday night at the team hotel, as he did Sunday, plotting how to win his third stage of this Giro d’Italia and his career 10th. His rivals and their teams spent the night mostly at a loss on how to topple King Cavendish.

Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) succeeded in the Giro’s third leg to Horsens, Denmark, but that was not a head-to-head as Cavendish crashed. Before the incident, Cavendish was gaining on Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) and seemed to have the momentum to carry through.

“To be fair, we tried for our first two years to beat Mark Cavendish, and we didn’t manage it. So, I’m not the right guy to ask,” Sky’s team manager, David Brailsford told VeloNews.

Brailsford helped Cavendish come through the British Academy and saw him turn pro with T-Mobile, which later became Highroad and HTC. Over the winter, he signed GB’s hottest cycling commodity to race for Sky.

“Physically, he’s the fastest guy. Psychologically, he’s strong. You put his back against the wall and he comes out fighting. He’s got a winning mentality,” Brailsford continued. “The bottom line is that physically, you have to get someone in the right position who’s faster, but I don’t think there’s anybody who is faster.”

Farrar got the jump on Cavendish last year when the Tour de France travelled to Redon. His rival, to be fair, was caught behind. Cavendish said at the time, he was busy “fighting with [José] Rojas [and] Kamikaze, [Romain] Feillu.” Farrar explained that the others, like Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) on Monday, are able to take advantage of certain situations.

“It’s not easy, but a couple of guys do it every year,” Farrar told VeloNews last week.

“He’s not a robot, he does make mistakes on a handful of occasions; there are guys out there who are fast enough to beat him when he does. … You need legs and luck.”

Orica says the best way is to go early, as it tried to do on Monday with Daryl Impey leading Goss. The final-corner crash, though, prevented a fair match.

“We can count the times on one hand that he has had to come over other riders. In all his sprints, he is the first guy when he starts the sprint. There are only a couple of sprints he has ever done where he has been passed,” Orica’s sports director, Matt White told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. ”So for us to beat Cavendish, we have to deliver Gossy in front of Mark. That’s the best way, and only way really, to beat him.”

Garmin’s DS, Allan Peiper looked at the bright side. He told VeloNews, “If you get beaten by Cav, it’s no shame. He’s won so many races, it’s not like you’ve been beaten by some upstart, you’ve been beaten by a guy who’s won 20 stages in the Tour de France.”

On Wednesday, the world champ will try to make it an even 30 between the Giro and the Tour. Can anyone stop him?