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Cavendish says Sagan could disrupt Tirreno sprints

The finishes in the week-long Italian race are notoriously technical and the Slovak champion could hold off the sprinters

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Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is in Italy this week to do one thing: win. When pressed on Tuesday, however, the former world champion pointed reluctantly at Cannondale’s Peter Sagan as a rider that could disrupt his hopes for stage victory on the tricky finales that mark the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico.

“As usual, I’m focused on my own performance rather than thinking about the others,” Cavendish said during Tuesday’s pre-race press conference. “However, I think a guy like Peter Sagan will be active when it comes to a race like this. I think stages that might come to a sprint, a guy like Peter might disrupt that and go for the GC. We’ll have to see what happens. It will be a fierce first couple of days.”

World time trial champion Tony Martin will anchor Omega Pharma in Wednesday’s opening team time trial and if the squad can stay close on time, Cavendish could take the leader’s red jersey on intermediate and finish-line time bonuses in stage 2. Dutch road champion Niki Terpstra will also be on the line, giving the Belgian squad firepower in the TTT, sprints, and hilly intermediate stages.

“We’ll see how it goes. It’s a difficult time trial,” said Cavendish. “It really takes a strategy to do this kind of a time trial, especially if it’s windy like it was today. We have two great time trialists, Tony Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski, but also Niki Terpstra is very strong in this discipline. This team won the world TTT championship last year. So, we will try to do our best with a strong team, even tomorrow.”

In a much-anticipated showdown with former teammate and nemesis André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Cavendish said that his ride across Tuscany would be focused on one thing: winning racing.

“My job as a sprinter is to win bike races,” said Cavendish. “It doesn’t matter if it’s at a grand tour, a very small race, or a big week-long race like Tirreno-Adriatico. I’m here for Omega Pharma-Quick Step to win. I want to win. We have a strong team here to win and we are going to try to do that.”

Martin did not attend the opening press conference, but said through a team press release that he was hoping to challenge for the overall as the race reaches into the alpine at the Prati di Tivo ski station before finishing with a short, seaside time trial at San Benedetto del Tronto.

“I’m happy about my form,” said Martin. “After my overall win at Volta ao Algarve (Tour of the Algarve) I trained one week in Mallorca [Spain], and than I was at home for another week. Everything went ok and I had a good approach to the race. As for Tirreno-Adriatico, it has a great parcours. I’m here to try to do something good even on the most difficult stages.”

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