The 2012 cycling season is underway after the first pedal strokes were turned in anger at the Tour Down Under. In the absence of Mark Cavendish, it was his former teammate Andre Greipel who dominated the sprints, but will the German giant have it his own way when the two go head to head in a race that matters? Cav again overshadowed Greipel, and indeed all the other sprinters, at the Tour de France in 2011. This year is different in so many ways for the Manxman, however. A new team, the world champion’s rainbow jersey on his back, the huge expectations of the British public in an Olympic year, not to mention impending fatherhood. Somehow, we suspect, the Manxman will take it all in his stride. Cavendish has a remarkable hit-rate when it comes to meeting objectives: twenty Tour de France stages, a green jersey, a Monument, a world championship, and a smattering of Giro and Vuelta stages speak for themselves. We’re looking forward to catching up with him in his first race for Team Sky in Qatar next week.
The post-Tour Down Under verbals between Team Sky and the newly-founded Aussie GreenEDGE added a bit of spice to the traditional Anglo-Aussie rivalry. Despite Simon Gerrans’ overall victory in the TDU, a fine result for GreenEDGE on their debut, Sky’s DS Sean Yates raised hackles when he suggested some of the Aussie team might have enjoyed their off-season a bit too much. Both sides will surely be scrutinising each other’s performances closely in Qatar and Oman then, especially as it’s Cavendish’s first outing. There’ll also be plenty of interest in BMC, with world number one Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd joining forces with Tour de France champion Cadel Evans. Too many chiefs? It’s too early to say obviously, but we’d expect riders of their quality to continue achieving. What happens to guys like Greg Van Avermaet remains to be seen, though. Last season the Belgian enjoyed some good rides and climbed into the top 20 on both the CQ Ranking and the new IG Markets Pro Cycling Index. How does he fit into BMC’s plans now?
We’ll be back with more blogs from the desert next week. Before the men’s racing, we’ll be covering the Ladies Tour of Qatar and hoping to get a few words from Chloe Hosking, the Australian rider who publicly called UCI President Pat McQuaid a “dick.”