Cavendish talks up Tour hopes
In an ominous warning to his rivals, Mark Cavendish believes his form is better than ever entering the Tour de France.
Fortunately for the riders vying for the points classification's green jersey, Cavendish's priority is the Olympic road race on July 28, six days after the Tour concludes in Paris, and it is this focus which has seen him lose four kilograms and a fraction of his trademark power.
The world champion and winner of 20 stages in the last four Tours said: "I've got other goals than the Tour de France; it's going to be a long July.
"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 might not absolutely dominate the sprints but I should be there or thereabouts."
Repetitive climbing and a scientific approach has resulted in the weight loss as Cavendish prepares for the nine ascents of Box Hill in Surrey as he bids to win Olympic gold on the first day of the Games.
While the Olympics, and not defending the maillot vert, is Cavendish's priority, Bradley Wiggins is bidding for Tour success and travels to Saturday's start in Liege as favourite.
It is Cavendish's intention to also reach the French capital on July 22, where Wiggins hopes to be the first Briton to take home the race winner's yellow jersey with the full support of Team Sky and his Manx team-mate.
"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 added.
"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."