Milan-San Remo: Mark Cavendish cools victory talk and tips Peter Sagan for victory
Last Updated: 17/03/13 10:48am
Mark Cavendish: Free from pressure going into Milan-San Remo
Mark Cavendish says he is riding Milan-San Remo more in hope than expectation of victory and believes it will take a "miracle" to prevent a Peter Sagan win.
The Slovakian prodigy goes into the season's first Monument as the clear favourite after notching up five victories in an impressive season so far, the latest two being at last week's Tirreno-Adriatico.
Cavendish is also in good form and is many bookmakers' second favourite, but the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step rider insists he isn't banking on being first across the line.
"I will ride it in the hope of winning, but not necessarily planning on winning," he said.
"I think it is going to be very difficult to beat Sagan. He is clearly a favourite. He won a sprint in Tirreno, he won in a small group with climbing specialists. He is in incredibly good form.
"Sagan got close last year and I really believe, barring accidents, it is going to take a miracle to beat him this year really. He is clearly a once-in-a-generation bike rider. But we will do our best."
Cavendish revealed he is relishing a pressure-free build-up to Milan-San Remo, having previously been weighed down by expectation every year since his victory in 2009.
This time around the Manxman has not made the race a priority for his season and is benefiting from a more relaxed atmosphere.
"This year it has been completely different," he explained. "I was obviously asked if I want to target this and I honestly don't want to target this. So, the pressure just on myself has been a lot less.
"There is not pressure from the team, it is always pressure I put on myself. I mean, as my first goal of the year I once demanded the team be built around me and things haven't paid off in the past."
Should the peloton still be together after the climbs of the Cipressa and Poggio in the closing stages, Cavendish is confident he can win a bunch sprint. However, he is keen to emphasise that he is not the team's only hope of victory.
"I think that is just one card we can play," he added. "I think it gives me an edge if it comes for the sprint, being the fastest man, but we have so many cards we can play.
"[Sylvain] Chavanel, for example, was incredible at Paris-Nice. I think we have got a really strong team. This many options has made me the most relaxed I have been between Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo before."