Saturday 16 December 2017

Cycling: Sean Kelly predicts early exit from Tour de France for Olympics-bound Mark Cavendish

FOUR-time Tour de France green jersey winner Sean Kelly would not be surprised to see Mark Cavendish exiting before Paris to boost his hopes of Olympic gold.

The 250-kilometres Olympic road race takes place six days after the conclusion of the 3,497km Tour on July 28, with Cavendish favourite.

Not only are the Games at home in London, but the course is one where sprinters, like world champion Cavendish, can prevail, meaning it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Manxman.

Eurosport commentator Kelly told Press Association Sport: "If I was in a position like that I'd have no hesitation if I felt the best way to go to the Olympics would be to stop the Tour de France after the first two weeks. That's where the sprinters get results anyway.

"To do the third week in the Tour is so energy demanding and with the Olympics so close that is going to be the problem as well.

"An Olympic event comes around once every four years, but you have to get an Olympic road race route which suits a rider like Cavendish.

"If you look at Beijing it was a very, very difficult circuit and who knows in four years' time (in Rio de Janeiro) it could be a really difficult circuit.

"It's an opportunity for the sprinters to win an Olympic road race and Cavendish certainly."

Cavendish has suggested he plans to ride all the way through to the Champs Elysees, where he has won in each of the past three years in accumulating 20 Tour stage successes.

However, as the second rest day comes with just five days' racing remaining, perhaps he will be tempted to end his Tour, turn his full attentions to London and rest up.

Irrespective of when Cavendish finishes the Tour, he expects to give up the points classification title he won for the first time in 2011, with intermediate sprint points - something not on Team Sky's agenda - needed in the race for the maillot vert.

Kelly added: "The trouble is with the Tour de France you never know how you're going to finish.

"To get through the final week it's so energy sapping and you can finish pretty drained. Six days to recover for the Olympics - is that going to be enough? It's the unknown for a lot of these guys.

"He has another five or six years to win the green jersey in the Tour de France."

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