Cavendish out to help Wiggins
Mark Cavendish is excited at the prospect of playing his part in Bradley Wiggins' bid to become the first British winner of the Tour de France.
Cavendish's main aim for 2012 is the Olympic road race on July 28, six days after the Tour finishes in Paris, where his Team Sky colleague Wiggins hopes to stand victorious as the first British winner of the yellow jersey.
It is Cavendish's intention to also reach the French capital, where he has won on the Champs Elysees in each of the past three years, but more as conditioning for London 2012, and he is happy to play second fiddle as Wiggins starts the Tour in Liege on Saturday as favourite with ambitions of victory.
"I probably won't win as much personally, in stages, but to be part of a team that holds real ambitions of winning the Tour de France overall, it's an honour for any bike rider," Cavendish said.
"In Bradley we've got the biggest chance we'll ever have as a nation, with a British team and with a British rider. It's exciting to go in and follow that ambition.
"I always knew Bradley had an opportunity of doing well at the Tour de France and a big aim was to win the Tour de France for Sky.
"Now it's an aim of winning the yellow jersey and green jersey in the next years. What a position to be in."
Cavendish won the points classification's green jersey for the first time in 2011, but with the accumulation of points at the intermediate sprints imperative in that quest, he admits a successful defence of the maillot vert is unlikely.
"Stage wins isn't enough to win it," he said.
"You have go for the intermediates. Whether you're going to limit your losses or win them flat out, that's the tactic you've got to go for.
"I haven't got my eyes on green, to be honest, but there's always a chance."
It appears the bid for yellow and green will wait for another year, with Cavendish eyeing Olympic glory.
Repetitive climbing and a scientific approach has seen Cavendish lose four kilograms in honing preparations for the 250-kilometre Olympic road race which finishes on The Mall and includes nine ascents of Box Hill in Surrey, where he trained last Friday.
As a result he has lost some of his trademark power which has seen him win 20 stages in four Tours, when he has been the leader of the nine-man team, but the 27-year-old from the Isle of Man might well be more competitive in stages where previously the undulating terrain ruled him out of contention.
"I've got other goals than the Tour de France; it's going to be a long July," Cavendish added.
"My form is really good, best it's been for a few years coming into the Tour.
"I've got a lot of wins this year and I'm excited to start.
"I should be at a lot more finishes than I have been in the past.
"I lost a bit of power, but there's no point having power if you're not going to get to the finish.
"I'd like to be at the finish before I worry.
"I might not absolutely dominate the sprints but I should be there or thereabouts."
It is an ominous warning for his rivals, perhaps not in the frantic bunch sprints at the Tour, but for the Olympics, with Cavendish insisting he gets better throughout Grand Tours and is currently ahead of schedule in form and fitness.
The next month could be the biggest of Cavendish's career and has dominated conversations since the 2011 Tour ended with the Manxman in green.
He added: "It's come round too quick. You finish the Tour de France and go 'I'm not doing that again' and before you know it you're flying off again."
Thankfully that is a temporary thought as Cavendish readies himself for another British bid for cycling success.
He added: "I'm excited about it. It has come around quick but I'm happy I've done the work I need to do.
"Everything's gone right and at least when you go in pretty confident, it doesn't matter when it comes round."