Interview by François Quivoron, in Tournai for sports.orange.fr after Mark Cavendish’s stage victory in Tournai on July 2, 2012.
The first sprint finish of the 2012 Tour and the first victory for Mark Cavendish on Monday during the Stage 2 in Tournai. The British rider, who now has 21 Tour stage victories to his name, explained how he has to do all the work alone in the sprints as his team’s main objective is to win the yellow jersey. But he has adapted to this very well.
Mark, tell us about your different attitude towards the sprints this year?
Winning at the Tour de France is something very special, but this year I never said that I was going to win on the Tour. It’s a big focus, and an important race, so I wanted to be here. It’s the biggest event of the season. At the start of the Tour, I always have that extra motivation. I knew that this year would be more difficult than previous years because I don’t have a team dedicated to helping me to win the sprints. I knew that beforehand and perhaps it puts a little bit of extra pressure on me. We’re here with another objective, and that’s to win the Tour de France. I’m delighted to be here with this team, and as I have no right to sacrifice the team, I decided to go it alone as we approach the finish line.
It’s your first victory on the Tour as the World Champion. How did it feel?
It’s not just during the Tour that I feel something special while wearing the rainbow jersey, it’s in every race. It’s very important to me to wear it, and I want to honor this jersey. Two weeks ago, I won the general classification of a stage race for the first time (Ster ZLM Toer), and it felt really special to be doing so while wearing the jersey of World Champion. I won on the Giro, and now I’ve won here, and it feels great. Sometimes when I’m out training, I glance down and look at the jersey, and it gives me a really special feeling. So many great champions have worn it before me, and I want to continue to do it justice.
Eisel and Boasson Hagen can help you in the sprints, but you said to them that you would go it alone today. Will you continue to do so throughout the rest of the Tour?
On the Tour, it’s not enough to have just two riders to lead you out. It takes the whole team. Boasson Hagen had already worked to get me up to the front, but I decided that it would be easier on my own, because decisions need to be taken immediately and it’s up to me to do that. I like to find my own way through.
“The sprint was very tight“
You weren’t in a great position 500 meters from the line. How did you manage to get up to the front so quickly?
I know that Freire always makes a move at the last moment, so I got on to his wheel. On the right-hand side, I saw Impey who was making ground on Goss and I squeezed in between the two of them. Then on the left, I saw Henderson and took his wheel, and he led me right on to Greipel’s wheel. At that point, I thought it was going to be a bit tight, but I managed to react well. He fought hard, and we all saw that the finish would be very close.
You’re now a father. Does that have an influence on you?
That’s right, I’m very proud and it’s true to say it has an influence. Peta (his girlfriend – ed.) is something truly special, she gives me a lot of support. She talks to me a lot and she really helps me to concentrate on my work. This morning, she sent me a message saying what I had to do today. I’ve won a lot of stages on the Tour de France, so I know what I need to do and I don’t need a message from my girlfriend to tell me. But her messages encourage me and help me to stay balanced and keep my concentration.
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