TOURNAI, Belgium (Reuters) - Road cycling is nominally a team sport but sometimes a rider has to go it alone and no one is better at it than Mark Cavendish, whether on the bike or off it.
The Team Sky rider, who won the second stage of the Tour de France on Monday with a stunning display of weaving, pulls no punches and it is why the British world champion is so dangerous to his rivals and charismatic in front of the cameras.
“It is easier to do it on your own,” he told reporters after pulling away from team mates placed there to help him in the sprint.
“If anything, it’s less decisions, less calculations. There’s too many people, too much going on, it’s better to be alone.”
Everybody in cycling knows that Cavendish’s talk about being alone has a double meaning.
The former HTC Highroad racer took the points classification’s green jersey for sprinters at last year’s Tour but given Cavendish has already achieved a dream, his new team have the aim of making all-rounder Bradley Wiggins the first British yellow jersey winner this time.
Helping both Cavendish and Wiggins, who lies second overall, will prove tricky for Team Sky over the next three weeks so the sprinter is taking the initiative.
“I was in a bit of a no man’s land coming into the Tour. I knew what we had to do for the yellow jersey,” he remarked on the Tour’s last day in Belgium, where even King Albert II turned up to watch his heroics.
“It was a weird situation to be in.”
Team Sky general manager Dave Brailsford, who will also try to help Cavendish to Olympic road race glory later this month in London, is anything but annoyed with his man’s individual ambition.
“It’s very fortunate to have Mark and Bradley in the team,” he said.
“Mark showed today he is world champion and he showed that in the final kilometres he is a master. He seems to make more right decisions than wrong decisions.”
Editing by Alison Wildey