Bradley Wiggins believes former teammate Mark Cavendish deserves a shot at defending his green jersey and breaking the Tour de France stage record this year.
Cavendish is set to miss out on being selected by QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl for the upcoming Tour, which starts on July 1, with team manager Patrick Lefevere stating Fabio Jakobsen is the preferred sprinter.
That is despite Cavendish recently winning a stage at the Giro d’Italia, while last year his return to the Tour de France saw him win Stages 4, 6, 10 and 13 to level record-holder Eddy Merckx and clinch the green jersey for a second time.
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Cavendish won three of his 34 stages when Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012, and speaking to the media ahead of the event, the Eurosport analyst said the “Manx Missile” would be selected by almost any other team.
“Patrick [Lefevere] knows what he’s doing but from a personal point of view, it would be a real shame if Cav’s not there,” Wiggins said.
“Any other team would be crazy not to take him, he’s just won a stage of the Giro.
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“Aside from the personal relationship with him, I find it hard to see why you wouldn’t take Mark: from a performance point of view, for the sponsors, for the impact he has on other riders around him on the team and the fact that he won four stages last year and the green jersey.
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“Why wouldn’t you take the defending green jersey back to the Tour de France? I can’t see anybody else on that team who would merit going ahead of him, personally.”
Lefevere, in quotes published by cyclingnews via Het Nieuwsblad, said earlier this month: “We always work with a long list: a number of riders already know from the first training camp of the season that we are looking at them for the Tour. After Switzerland we will go from eleven names to the final eight names.
“It is no secret that we are going to sprint in the Tour with Fabio Jakobsen. Although I will continue to speak with two names until ad nauseam."
Meanwhile, Wiggins also spoke of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas’ chances at the Tour.
Of four-time winner Froome, who will line-up for Israel Premier Tech, Wiggins said: “He may surprise us all. GC may be beyond him, but it would be nice to see him up the road in a break and pull off a stage win.”
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Regarding 2018 champion Thomas, Wiggins added: “Even though he might not have the physical attributes he had a couple of years ago when he won the Tour – as happens to us all – that recent win in the Tour de Suisse was incredible. For sure, he’s in podium contention.
“And because of the real racer that Geraint is, if it gets down to a position where there’s a little bit of cat and mouse between UAE and Jumbo-Visma, he could slip into a move and surprise everyone."
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