Cavendish aiming high in Giro
Mark Cavendish is targeting multiple successes at the Giro d'Italia as he returns to Denmark this week for his first Grand Tour with Team Sky.
The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man won last September's World Road Race Championships in Copenhagen and takes to the Tour of Italy start line in Herning as part of a potentially momentous year.
Without a general classification contender, the task for Team Sky is simple, according to Cavendish, who in July will seek a successful defence of his Tour de France points classification title and Olympic Games gold.
"I'd like to win stages," he said.
"The team are going with the ambition of winning stages, whether it is the team time-trial, the individual time-trial, sprints, mountains. We want to win stages there.
"We have no GC ambitions really. There are 21 days and we would like to win as many of those as possible."
The Giro, which finishes in Milan on May 27, will see Cavendish joined in the British team by compatriots Peter Kennaugh, Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Jeremy Hunt, a late replacement for the injured Ben Swift, with Bernhard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran completing Team Sky's nine-man squad.
Cavendish in 2009 became the first Briton to don the Giro leader's pink jersey.
Thomas, who won the Tour de Romandie prologue last month, may fancy his chances of claiming the maglia rosa after the opening 8.7-kilometre skirmish around Herning, or possibly after the team time-trial in Verona, which takes place on May 9 following three Danish stages and a travel day.
If the Welshman does so, he would emulate Bradley Wiggins, David Millar and Cavendish in leading the Giro.
Cavendish won two stages of a 2011 Giro which will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons.
On May 9, 2011, there was the tragic death of Belgian Wouter Weylandt, who crashed on a steep descent in the first week of the race.
The overall winner was Alberto Contador, who was competing under a cloud and later stripped of the title for a doping offence at the 2010 Tour de France.
By default, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) is the defending champion and will be among the favourites to win this time.
Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), John Gadret (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) will also be seeking overall glory, with their race set to intensify in the mountainous second and third weeks.
Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) will also be a contender, although the Tour de France is his aim.
"My season was directed at peaking in the Tour," the Luxembourg rider said.
"But when you think about it, this situation creates opportunities. For sure, I will come to the start with a different preparation than the other GC riders, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. "My condition is not so bad and it can only grow the coming weeks.
"The Tour of Italy is one of the big monuments of cycling as well, so it is at least a big challenge for me."