Mark Cavendish could ride the Giro d’Italia as he builds towards his return to the Tour de France with Astana-Qazaqstan and targets a record breaking 35th stage win in July.
Speaking at the Tour of Oman, team manager Alexandre Vinokourov revealed that he had discussed the possibility of riding two Grand Tours with the Manxman.
“We’ll try to win races before and then concentrate on the Giro and Tour,” Vinokourov told Cyclingnews at the Tour of Oman, confirming Cavendish’s possible corsa rosa participation.
“I don’t know about going to the finish, but for preparation, winning stages is always a good motivation and it helps to arrive relaxed to the Tour. We’ll see later, but in any case, it’s an idea and Mark is open to it. I think the more races you do, the better it is.”
Cavendish has won sixteen Giro stages during his career, most recently in Balatonfüred on the opening weekend of last year’s race. QuickStep did not select Cavendish for last year’s Tour, with the team instead bringing Fabio Jakobsen.
After leaving QuickStep at season’s end, Cavendish was initially set to move to B&B Hotels, but the team collapsed in November and he eventually landed at Astana-Qazaqstan.
Cavendish made his debut for Vinokourov’s team at the Muscat Classic and Tour of Oman, and he will be in action again next week at the UAE Tour.
The rugged terrain at the Tour of Oman meant that Cavendish’s only realistic possibility of success came on the opening day, when Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep) claimed the bunch sprint.
There ought to be more opportunities at the UAE Tour, where the sprint field will include Merlier, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-DSTNY), Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) and Sam Welsford (Team DSM).
The Tour de France will be the centrepiece of Cavendish’s season, as he looks to claim an historic 35th stage victory, but his schedule will be busy between here and July.
In March, Cavendish’s schedule will follow a familiar pattern, as he races Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo before travelling north to Belgium.
“After UAE, it’s Tirreno and I think Milan-San Remo too,” Vinokourov said.
“Then he’ll do some races in Belgium. He’ll rest a little bit and then race the Tour of Turkey and maybe the Giro. There’s four or five days between them.”
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