King of Sprint

Team Sky will be the biggest team in cycling in 2012, says Mark

Last Updated: 13/12/11 4:27pm

Mark Cavendish is convinced that Team Sky have a great chance of winning the yellow and green jerseys at next year's Tour de France.

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"I race with these guys every day and since I started racing pros in 2005 I've noticed a difference in the sport. There aren't people doing super human things like Ricardo Ricco did, any more."

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The 2011 road race world champion, who joined Team Sky in October, told Special Report that his winter and spring schedule is geared towards the Tour, which starts on June 30, and the Olympic Road Race, on July 28.

Cavendish, 26, became the first Briton to win the green jersey - awarded to the Tour's best sprinter - when he won the final stage of this season's race, in Paris, in July. He is convinced that more success is just around the corner.

"When Sky set up, they made their intention clear - they want to win the Tour de France," said Cavendish. "I was really happy where I was but it makes sense; you want to ride for a team that's in your home country with all your friends.

"As things have gone on, Sky has progressed and it's the fastest growing team in cycling right now. I'm convinced next year that it will be the biggest team in cycling.

"There are incredible riders there and an incredible management group; with the success they've had, it was a partnership that had to happen.

"If I didn't think it was possible to win the yellow and green jersey at the same time by two British riders, I wouldn't be at Team Sky next year.

"I am at Team Sky so I think it is very possible. With the riders and infrastructure they've got, it is very, very possible to do."

Pride

Cavendish secured the road race world title in Denmark in September, one of two golds that helped Great Britain finish top of the medal table.

Now he can't wait to represent Great Britain at the London Olympics.

"I think any British person who likes sport will know it's always special to represent your country - especially for me," he said. "I think the biggest thing about Copenhagen at the Worlds was pulling on that Union flag jersey.

"You don't get paid a wage when you represent your country; I think it's like any sport - you do it out of pride - but it's always the biggest pride that comes from that. In Britain we are a proud nation and it's always such a massive thing to pull on that jersey.

"An Olympic gold means a lot to any British sportsman; in terms of cycling, the history of cycling - the Olympics was never a big thing in the world of cycling, so it probably wouldn't make me any bigger in the history books of cycling, which are important for me to be in.

"But on a personal level, for sure, it would be a massive, massive thing. I'm British, the Olympics in London on a road race and doing it with a team that should be the strongest there. It will be a proud moment if we win."

Frustrating

Cavendish also told Special Report that cycling is now one of the cleanest sports around thanks to a stringent drugs code and a policy of exposing cheats.

"In the last three years I've had over 60 doping tests every year - I was the most tested athlete on the planet in 2009/2010," he said.

"Because of what people have done in the past, cycling doesn't want that again and so people say 'ooh, there's been a positive test in cycling'. Yes, because they are doing the things to catch them!

"And when they do catch them, they don't care about the image of the sport, the franchise of the sport - they care about making a clean and fair sport, so they make an example of these people.

"I race with these guys every day and since I started racing pros in 2005 I've noticed a difference in the sport. There aren't people doing super human things like Ricardo Ricco did, any more.

"There are bigger groups at the finish and everybody's on their hands and knees; there's nobody just bouncing around, fresh as a daisy, after a stage.

"It's such a hard sport - it's so frustrating. You work so hard. I ride 50,000km a year. Less than half of that is racing, so I have to do the rest in training to make sure I'm good for those races.

"When I put all that work in and somebody says 'cycling - they just dope', it winds me up."

Special Report returns at 12.30pm and 5.30pm on Christmas Day, when we'll be with Cesc Fabregas as he gets used to life back in Barcelona.

If you've missed any of our previous episodes or want to watch again, you can find highlights of each programme at www.skysports.com/specialreport or the latest episode on Sky Anytime.