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Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 12:21 UK

Cavendish tipped for Beijing gold

Mark Cavendish
Briton Cavendish has been in superb form this season

Mark Cavendish can follow his Tour de France stage win with Olympic gold, says British Cycling's performance director David Brailsford.

Cavendish, 23, produced a thrilling sprint finish to become the youngest Briton to win a Tour stage.

And Brailsford told BBC 5 Live: "He's absolutely delivered what he wanted to.

"He's showed he is pound-for-pound the fastest sprinter in the world. He will be very tough to beat alongside Bradley Wiggins in the madison in Beijing."

Cavendish and Wiggins are already the reigning world champions in the 'tag' event, where two racers take it in turns to ride high-speed laps with points available for a series of sprints at regular intervals.

Cavendish, 23, who rides for the Columbia team, has made a huge impact since becoming a professional road cyclist last year.

WHAT HIS COLOMBIA TEAM-MATES SAY ABOUT CAV
Bernhard Eisel (Aut): "He is a cannonball"
Adam Hansen (Aus): "He has got a kick like no-one else"
George Hincapie (USA): "He's the best sprinter in the world.
If he has a straight run at it there is no-one faster

Wednesday's victory was his 18th during that time, after a record-equalling 11 in his debut season.

It was also the first Tour stage win by a Briton since David Millar's in 2002, the Scot's time trial victory in 2003 expunged after his drugs ban, and the first by a Briton in a bunch sprint finish in the Tour since Barry Hoban in 1975.

The Manxman's seven wins this year included two stages in the Giro d'Italia, the second biggest major tour.

Cavendish dropped out of his maiden Tour de France on the eighth stage last year before the race hit the mountains.

606: DEBATE
BBC Radio 5 Live's Peter Slater

But the rider insists he has "no intention of finishing anywhere before Paris" this time, despite suggestions he may drop out again to stay fresh for the Olympics.

Brailsford insists he would be happy for Cavendish to do so, saying: "I'd like to see him finish.

"It keeps him racing, keeps him in that environment, it's structured and there's a routine there. So as long as he could absorb it, all that would translate itself onto the track.

Cavendish on the role of a sprint cyclist

"There is an element of a gamble to it, a risk strategy if you like, but if he did go all the way we'd be confident he would arrive in Beijing in great shape for the madison.

"I just believe that could be the best way for him to prepare to go for gold in Beijing."

Brailsford fully expects Cavendish and Wiggins to win gold, adding: "There is no doubt Mark is the man of the moment.

"And while Mark has the out and out speed, Bradley has the endurance. As a combination, they're very well suited and very, very difficult to beat - by anyone."

see also
Tour de France stage five photos
09 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Cavendish ready to step up
04 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2008 preview
02 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Hoy extends GB gold haul to nine
29 Mar 08 |  Cycling
Cycling on the BBC
30 Jun 08 |  Cycling


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