Mark Cavendish has played down suggestions that he is set to replace Sam Bennett as Deceuninck-QuickStep’s lead sprinter at the Tour de France.
It was revealed last week that Bennett has suffered a knee injury which could cause him to miss this year’s Tour, but the 30-year-old Irishman is yet to be ruled out.
After facing possible retirement between the previous seasons, Cavendish has a new lease of competitive life, and won Stage 5 at the Baloise Belgium Tour on Sunday.
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Speaking after his win, Cavendish was non-committal.
"We have to see," he said.
"We have the current green-jersey winner in Sam Bennett. I think it’s right to see how he’s going before we think of anything else."
The veteran Manxman was Bennett’s replacement in Belgium, with teammate Remco Evenepoel securing the overall win.
"Belgium was always on my programme and Sam wanted to do it, so I got kicked out of it, so it’s serendipity that I’m back in it with [Michael] Morkov [main lead-out rider] and the rest of the guys; [Davide] Ballerini, [Zdenek] Stybar, Remco, Yves [Lampaert] and Iljo [Keisse]. That’s a hit team," Cavendish continued.
"That’s a team that any kid would dream of being in, and I’m a 36-year-old that’s been around for a lot of years."
Addressing recent rumours, he said: “At the end of the day it was all talk. The reason the whole Tour de France came up, I didn’t mention it, [team head Patrick Lefevere[ didn’t mention it.
“I won in Turkey and all of a sudden the media started talking about it. This is something that happens a lot.
“The thing about Eddy Merckx’s record is, I never started that, it was the media that started all that and all of a sudden it’s all I’ve gone for.
“It was you guys [asking] if I should go on the Tour or not.”
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