Mark Cavendish Plays Down Paris-Roubaix Expectations

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Compiègne, France, April 9, 2016 (AFP) – Mark Cavendish may be widely regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time but he said on Saturday he is happy to play a team role at Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix one-day classic.

Cavendish has won 26 Tour de France stages, putting him third on the all-time list, and was world champion in 2011, but he will be working for Norwegian team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen on the grueling 257.5km ‘Hell of the North’ cobbled classic.

Yet although a winner of one of the fabled ‘Monument’ races himself — the
2009 Milan-San Remo one-day classic — Cavendish knows a tilt at this year’s Paris-Roubaix alongside the likes of Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara is beyond him.

He’s raced the ‘Queen of the Classics’ only once before, failing to reach the finish line in 2011.

“I’m really looking forward to it, this is my first Paris-Roubaix with (South Africa’s) Team Dimension so I hope to get a bit deeper into the race than last time and help Edvald later on,” said the 30-year-old, who’s still hopeful of making the Great Britain track team for August’s Olympic Games in Rio.

Cavendish may have only raced Paris-Roubaix once before, but he says that wasn’t due to indifference.

“I’ve always wanted to do it every year but it didn’t really fit with my team’s plans,” he said.

“I was with (Etixx-) Quick Step last year and they have a strong roster so for me to ride in the break if I want to didn’t really match what the team want to do — and fair enough.

“But here at Dimension Data we go out and we race and we do our best — it’s a nice atmosphere to be in.

“We’ve come to Roubaix and we’ve got no pressure, we’re not the big favourites but definitely we can be in the mix at the end.”

As for his own chances of one day holding aloft the famous cobble trophy handed to the winner, Cavendish was playing down expectations.

“I don’t know, I haven’t done it. I did when I had bad form in 2011 so I have no idea.

“I’ve only done a couple of recons (test rides) so I think it’s a bit premature to say anything.”