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Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Tuesday, 14 September 2010 18:49 UK

Mark Cavendish eyes Tour of Spain sprint title

Mark Cavendish wins the 13th stage of the Tour of Spain
Cavendish sprints clear to secure the 13th stage in Burgos

Mark Cavendish is aiming for the Tour of Spain points classification crown despite admitting he had not expected to be in the running for the title.

The HTC-Columbia rider has an 18-point advantage over Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez at the top of the standings.

"The points classification was not an objective at all," said Cavendish, who has won two stages so far in the race.

"But the green jersey's definitely a goal for me now. I think Rodriguez is more interested in the overall race."

Cavendish, 25, clinched the 12th and 13th stages on Thursday and Friday to add to the 20 career stage wins he has accumulated on the Tour of France and Giro d'Italia.

Mike H

Just as in the Tour de France, Cavendish initially looked short of form in Spain as he failed to build on his team's time-trial victory in the race's first two sprint stages.

But he has recovered to take possession of the green jersey in seven of the last eight stages.

After matching Britain's Robert Millar's feat of winning stages on all three grand tours, the Manxman has immediately set his sights on clinching his first points wins in one of cycling's most prestigious road races.

"I've never won that points jersey before and it would be good to do it," he stated.

"But that's not our only objective for the team, we've got a rider [Peter Velits of Slovakia] in the top 10 overall, we won the team time trial and we have had guys in breaks."

While Rodriguez and Italy's Vincenzo Nibali may be distracted by defending or denting the Spaniard's 33-second lead in the overall standings, Cavendish may come under pressure from American Tyler Farrar, who is 21 points behind Cavendish in third.

Cavendish has targeted two of the remaining five stages as potential victories.

I've never won that points jersey before and it would be good to do it

Mark Cavendish

In addition to Thursday's stage in Salamanca and the race finale in Madrid on Sunday, he also raised the possibility of producing a surprise on the 143-mile trip to Toledo on Friday.

As he attempts to close on the sprint title, Cavendish has only Austrian Bernhard Eisel alongside him from the HTC-Columbia line-up that helped him to five stage wins in this year's Tour de France.

But in the absence of lead-out man Mark Renshaw, Cavendish has formed a similarly formidable partnership with Renshaw's fellow Australian Matt Goss.

"I tried to let Matt take a stage before I made the green an objective and it didn't quite work out. But if I've got the points jersey secured then I'd really like to do that," he said.

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see also
Cavendish scores second Spain win
10 Sep 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish earns landmark victory
09 Sep 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish beaten again in Spain
01 Sep 10 |  Cycling
Team hands Cavendish Spain lead
28 Aug 10 |  Cycling

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