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by Shane Stokes
December 2, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
Mark Cavendish is determined to have a strong first season with his new Dimension Data team but, according to long time mentor Brian Holm, it may be necessary for the Briton to prioritise what he wants to do in what will be a very busy three months.
The 2016 season will be complicated somewhat by the addition of two additional targets to what would otherwise be his standard programme.
Next year, the Rio Olympics and a pancake-flat world championships in Qatar offer two additional targets for the Manxman. According to Holm, that will make things a little more complex.
“He has got the Olympics coming up, he has got the world championships,” he told CyclingTips. “So it is going to be confusing for everyone this year as to where the target is going to be.
“Is it going to be the Tour de France, is it going to be the world championships, is it going to be the Olympics? Are there going to be a few shots in the six shooter to do something? I am not sure he is going to do it [all].”
Holm’s point is an interesting one. Were there just two big goals targetted, it would be possible for Cavendish to seek to sustain a peak from the Tour to Rio or, alternatively, to back off slightly after the Tour and then come back strong in a bid to win his second road rainbow jersey.
However with the French stage race, the chance to win his first Olympic medal and the worlds, being in peak form for all three will be tricky.
Whatever the decision, Holm won’t have an input; he is remaining at Etixx – Quick-Step, finishing out his current contract, while Cavendish has moved to the African Dimension Data team.
It will move up to WorldTour in 2016 and, as a result, will have the automatic right to compete in all three Grand Tours.
Cavendish’s programme hasn’t been made public as yet. However a condition of his moving to Dimension Data was being able to compete on the track in the Olympics, and so periods of track racing are likely.
The Briton has clocked up a total of 26 Tour stage wins thus far. He’s approaching the all-time record of 34 stage wins taken by Eddy Merckx, and there has been speculation in the past about whether or not he can reach this milestone.
Holm believes it could be possible, but is also unsure how seriously Cavendish is eyeballing that mark.
“He was never really talking about it [in the past], but of course he needs some new targets. So a target could very well be like the Merckx record.
“But Cav is a gentleman also. I honestly don’t know if he really wants to do it as he has so much respect for Eddy Merckx. So I wouldn’t say he is going for it, but probably he should.”