Tour de France: Cavendish rival targets Harrogate win

Mark Cavendish Tour of Britain
Mark Cavendish Tour of Britain

Mark Cavendish has been warned he will be targeted by his major rival as he bids for a Tour de France stage win in his mother Adele's home town.

The Isle of Man cyclist is a leading contender to win the opening stage of the Tour in Harrogate on 5 July.

But one of the race's UK organisers says sprinter Marcel Kittel's team have specifically targeted that stage.

"A win for Cavendish is not a shoo-in by any means," said Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity.

"I'm sure Marcel Kittel would like nothing better than to get one over his arch-rival in Harrogate."

Marcel Kittel Tour de France
German sprinter Marcel Kittel has emerged as Cavendish's biggest rival in the past year

Former green jersey winner Cavendish - who is tied for third on the Tour's list of all-time stage wins with 25 - saw his position as the world's top sprinter come under threat from Germany's Kittel last season.

In addition to a host of other victories in 2013, Kittel won four stages at the Tour, including the showpiece final stage sprint down the Champs-Elysees.

It was the first time that Cavendish, who rides for the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team, had been beaten on the iconic Parisian street since 2008.

And the 25-year-old's Giant-Shimano team are planning to spoil their rival's dream by beating him in Harrogate.

The 2014 race's opening stage - the first of three in England - finishes in the Yorkshire town on July 5.

"Giant-Shimano are coming over to do a recce in the next couple of weeks, and they have told me they are targeting the Harrogate stage," said Verity.

"But 5 July is also the Isle of Man's national day, which is another good thing if you believe in omens."

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