Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Watching Cavendish at the Revolutions' meeting at the weekend was confirmation of my theory on his sprinting. He doesn't need a train to win a sprint. He shouldn't use a train to win a sprint.
Cavendish took the win on the last race by going from the front and even though he wasn't in his best form he managed to keep the other riders behind him...and on track. Sure enough he would have loved a few gears to shift up but he still rotated those legs at just the right cadence to cross the line first. 

At the Worlds he took the win despite, yes despite, Team GB's tactics. Yes I'm the only person in the world to think that but not ashamed to admit it and if Cav hadn't had that last kick, most would have to admit Team GB's tactics had been foolish.
They rode for everyone, not just Cav. Yes they kept the pace high but in staying at the front for so long they gave the other teams like Germany and Australia a chance in the sprint. Their train failed comprehensively when it counted and it nearly cost Cavendish the title. Geraint Thomas lost contact with Cav by either going too deep too soon and/or by Cav being boxed in and if it hadn't been for his sheer desire to grab the rainbow jersey today we would probably have an Australian champion.

His other most important win was at the "Monument" that is Milano-Sanremo. Cav went for it alone, chasing by himself a tiring effort by Haussler to beat him on the line by a whisker. Again no train there.
And he's had other wins where the train was not required. 

No doubt Zabel was the mastermind on the successful HighRoad/Columbia/HTC train. That's how most pure sprinters win. Like Petacchi, Cipollini before him, Farrar. But Cavendish is not everyone else. He is definitely special in the way he can pull away from the group at a speed nobody can match. He has proven to have a very good eye for positioning in the last kilometres. No doubt is very useful to have someone like Renshaw in front of you fighting for position and sorting out a good corridor from where to launch the attack, but a whole train?
I'm not saying he doesn't need a team. Team effort is what allowed him to be at the front, protecting him during the race, keeping the pace high and without a good team is almost impossible to win so consistently.

But I think Team Sky can rest easy in the knowledge that he would only need two or three guys on sprint days and not half the team which can be used to help Wiggins and Froome stay at the front of GC.
We will see more wins by the Manxman without the help of the whole squad, giving more space and opportunities to other riders to do separate work, or so I hope. Because I don't want to see the likes of HTC again, where a whole team of extremely talented riders are sacrificed for the glory of one.

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