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Tour de France: Mark Cavendish unsure of sprinting form

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Mark Cavendish says he is not certain all 'flat' stages will end in sprints

Mark Cavendish has admitted he is unsure how competitive he will be in sprints at the Tour de France due to the time he has spent training on the track for the Olympic Games.

The 31-year-old Manxman has dedicated much of the past eight months to riding in velodromes in preparation for representing Great Britain in the omnium in Rio.

Cavendish has still managed to race 36 days on the road in 2016, but his haul of three sprint wins is well adrift of the 12 victories he had achieved by this point a year ago and six short of his 2014 total.

Mark Cavendish, UCI Track Cycling World Championships, omnium
Image: Cavendish has been training on the track for the Olympic Games

Speaking at a press conference ahead of Saturday's opening stage in Normandy, he said: "It's been completely different. I've had a pretty track[-focused] build-up. I used a lot of racing to build my endurance.

"I really don't know how it will be. It could be the best thing I've done; it could be the worst thing I've done."

Cavendish's Great Britain coaches warned earlier in the year that he would need to leave the Tour early in order to begin his final preparations for the Olympic omnium, which takes place on August 14-15.

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Cavendish, however, is determined to complete all 21 stages and take part in cycling's most prestigious sprint, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, on Sunday, July 24.

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He added: "I'm not coming to the Tour de France planning to stop. This is my 10th Tour de France start. Every time I stopped, it's been for different circumstances, so you never know the circumstances to it.

Mark Cavendish, British national road race 2016
Image: Cavendish has only three sprint wins to his name this season

"The thing is, I was in bed for a week after the Tour de France last year. I got sick. I know I can't afford to do that this year. Definitely, though, the biggest stage in the world is the Champs-Elysees for a sprinter.

"I know that my eight team-mates are going to do their best to get to Paris and I'm going to try to do my best to get to Paris."

Saturday's flat opening stage presents Cavendish with another opportunity to claim the Tour leader's yellow jersey for the first time in his career, but he insists the maillot jaune is not a priority.

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"It was never a career target," he said. "It's just something I haven't done. It's a stage win. The win will get you the yellow jersey. You can only look at it like that.

"How else will you get the yellow jersey? Even if it was the seventh stage, we'd go into it with the same strategy."

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