Mark Cavendish can win Paris-Roubaix, says ex-mentor Brian Holm
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 12/02/16 10:28am
Mark Cavendish can become “king of the Classics” and win Paris-Roubaix as early as next year, according to former mentor Brian Holm.
Cavendish has claimed multiple wins in cobbled Classics such as Scheldeprijs and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne during his career but has never been viewed as a potential winner of the notoriously difficult Paris-Roubaix and failed to finish in his only appearance at the race, in 2011.
The 'Hell of the North', which is one of the five prestigious one-day 'Monuments', contains more than 50km of cobbled roads over its flat, 250km-plus distance and is normally won by powerful Classics specialists, with pure sprinters rarely in contention.
But Holm, who worked with Cavendish at both HTC-Highroad and Etixx - Quick-Step and oversaw his victory in the 2009 edition of Milan-San Remo, believes the 30-year-old is so versatile and skilful on the flat that he wouldn't even need to prepare specifically to win Paris-Roubaix.
He told skysports.com: "Cav is maybe in a place now where, for sure, he could race Paris-Roubaix, and maybe win, I would say. Everyone says he cannot win Paris-Roubaix, but I say that's rubbish. If you can win Milan-San Remo, you can win Paris-Roubaix also.
"The climbs of Milan-San Remo are not really suited to Cav, but on the flat he is unbelievable.
"This year has a very strict schedule with the Olympics, the worlds and the Tour de France. One more object would be too much, but I have no doubts that Cav can win Paris-Roubaix. He doesn't need to prepare; he can do it now. He can be king of the Classics.
"Tom Steels was a sprinter and he finished third at Paris-Roubaix, Eddy Planckaert was a sprinter and won it, and I think Cav is going to be there sooner or later in Paris-Roubaix."
Cavendish's status as one of the greatest sprinters of all time is secure, but his claim to being the best sprinter of the current generation has slipped in the past three years following the emergence of Marcel Kittel, who has replaced him at Etixx - Quick-Step this year.
After claiming 23 Tour de France stage victories in five years between 2008 and 2012, Cavendish has won just three in the past three editions, but Holm believes that is due to stronger competition rather than the Manxman slowing down.
He added: "I would say he is as good as ever right now, but I just think the challenge is bigger now. There are more people around, like Kittel and [Andre] Greipel, who have organised trains around them.
"Cav is a sprinter and he won't lose it in the next few years."
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