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Cavendish torn between Giro, California

With a 2010 schedule full of challenges ranging from defending his Milan-San Remo win to the green jersey at the Tour de France to even a run at the rainbow jersey in Australia, Mark Cavendish has one big question mark on where he will race in May.

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With a 2010 schedule full of challenges ranging from defending his Milan-San Remo win to the green jersey at the Tour de France to even a run at the rainbow jersey in Australia, Mark Cavendish has one big question mark on where he will race in May.

The HTC-Columbia sprinter is torn between returning to the Giro d’Italia or racing at the Tour of California, which moved from February to May for 2010. He’s enjoyed success at both races, but the new dates of California are creating a quandary for Cavendish.

“I’d like to try to win stages in all three grand tours this year, but the team might want me to go to California,” Cavendish said. “It’s an American team, and (California) is a nice race, I like to ride there. The Giro is also great, I love racing there, too. There are pros and cons on both sides.”

Following his dramatic 20-plus-win 2009 season capped by San Remo and six stages at the Tour de France, Cav is plotting an even more ambitious program this year.

The Manxste’s first major goal is defending his victory at Milan-San Remo before a run at Ghent-Wevelgem and a first-ever start at the Tour of Flanders.

The next challenge will be winning the green jersey at the Tour followed by a serious push for the rainbow jersey in Australia at the end of the season. He’ll likely race the Vuelta a España for the first time to prepare for the world championships.

With such a race-heavy calendar, HTC-Columbia team manager Rolf Aldag said he’s not losing any sleep on where Cavendish will race in May.

“The Giro and California is a luxury decision,” Aldag told VeloNews. “We are convinced no matter what we do, we will win some sprints anyway.”

Aldag understands Cavendish’s ambition to race the Giro, but said it’s important for Cavendish not to get burned out in a season replete with major goals.

“For Cav, the main goal is the Tour and then there’s the world’s, which suit the sprinters, so you have to have a different season planning. What is the best preparation for the worlds? Maybe the Vuelta, then you’re talking Giro, Tour and Vuelta, that’s really a lot,” Aldag explains. “And then you try to win San Remo again, you try to win Wevelgem, and ride Flanders. That would be 99 race days before the hardest race of the year at worlds.”

Cavendish was forced to delay his season debut from Tour of Qatar to the Ruta del Sol due to an abscessed tooth, but he’s otherwise ready to get racing.

For Aldag, the decision between the Giro or California is one that can wait.

“We can leave it open and see how the season goes,” Aldag said. “You have to compromise, but compromise only the lower-rank goals. We cannot compromise the green jersey. That does not give me a headache to choice between the Giro or California.”