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"[The Tour Down Under] is too hard, it's a WorldTour race. [It's] stressful. Physically it's not any more demanding than it is here but with WorldTour points available it's stressful racing," Cavendish says

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele








29.01.2014 @ 12:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has only done the Tour Down Under once and the Brit has made it clear that he doesn't plan to return to the race that was once known as a paradise for sprinters. Claiming that the Australian race is too stressful, the Manxman will stick to his recent trend of starting his seasons in the Tour de San Luis.


The Tour Down Under has had a habit of attracting fantastic line-ups of sprinters, with Andre Greipel being the dominant figure since the race's inclusion in the WorldTour in 2008. However, the man often billed as the fastest man in the world, Mark Cavendish, has only done the race once, in 2011 when he failed to make much of an impact in the sprints.


In the past two years, Cavendish has started his seasons in the Tour de San Luis and the Brit rules out that he has any plans of returning to the Australian WorldTour race to battle it out with the likes of Greipel and Marcel Kittel who have both been in attendance in Adelaide for the past two seasons. Instead, he prefers the more low-key build up in Argentina where there is less stress and media attendance.


"[The Tour Down Under] is too hard, it's a WorldTour race," Cavendish told Cycling Weekly in San Luis. "[It's] stressful. Physically it's not any more demanding than it is here but with WorldTour points available it's stressful racing. If I was able to go well enough to win in the Tour Down Under then I don't think I could do well again in July. I'm expected to win races. It's not going to be beneficial for the Tour de France."

The Tour Down Under was once known as a race for sprinters, with most of the stages suiting the fast finishers, but in recent years the route has been made tougher. In the 2014 edition, only the final stage ended in a real bunch sprint, limiting the opportunities for the pure sprinters.


The race in Argentina is much mountainous but has traditionally offered at least three sprint finishes. Cavendish made his debut in the race last year when he made his first appearance in Omega Pharma-Quick Step colours, getting his season off to a good start by winning the first stage.


"I came last year as a replacement for Tom [Boonen] because he was sick. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to come again," he said. "I wanted an easy start to the year. I wasn't planning on racing but it's good to keep you motivated. I enjoy the nice weather and to ride with Tom [Boonen] a little bit. I could see myself doing it every year."

This year Cavendish failed to take another stage win and he played the role of lead-out man for teammate Tom Boonen who is coming back from injury. The Belgian's best result was 3rd on stage 3 but the team was significantly hampered by the early loss of Alessandro Petacchi who abandoned due to stomach problems, and Cavendish claimed to be happy with his race.


The next race for Omega Pharma-Quick Step's star sprinter will be the inaugural Dubai Tour which starts next Wednesday.



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