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Old 10-24-11, 09:53 AM   #1
xfimpg
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Now that the "HTC train" has been broken up

Now that the "HTC train" has been broken up, sprinting should be interesting again.

Any serious rivals to Cavendish?

I have a feeling that Renshaw and Goss are going to be itching to go at him, including Greipel. But can they beat him, don't know...

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Old 10-24-11, 04:00 PM   #2
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I hope the sprints turn out to be more interesting, but I'm not sure it will end up that way for two reasons.

1. Sky's team should be stronger than people think. Renshaw is a big loss, but Cav will still have Eisel. Stannard & Geraint Thomas are both strong guys who could help out. Boasson Hagen has the talent to be good in a train if they decide to use him that way for certain races.

2. Cav is just that much better than everybody. He showed in the TDF (Stage 5) that he can win without a train and I'm not sure who is faster than him in a pure sprint. Greipel did beat him once, but Greipel seems to make a lot of mistakes with his positioning towards the end of the race. I don't think Goss is quite fast enough, but he should win his share of difficult sprints when Cav gets dropped on a climb. I'm curious about how fast Kittel is. Is he another Greipel who takes all the lower-tier races, or can he beat Cav head-to-head if he gets the chance?

How split up will Sky be in the grand tours? It will be interesting to see, but in the end I think that will hurt the GC guys more than it will hurt Cavendish.
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Old 10-24-11, 04:33 PM   #3
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Cavendish wins often enough when the train has fallen apart that I don't expect to see that much difference.
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Old 10-24-11, 05:16 PM   #4
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I hope the sprints turn out to be more interesting, but I'm not sure it will end up that way for two reasons.

1. Sky's team should be stronger than people think. Renshaw is a big loss, but Cav will still have Eisel. Stannard & Geraint Thomas are both strong guys who could help out. Boasson Hagen has the talent to be good in a train if they decide to use him that way for certain races.

2. Cav is just that much better than everybody. He showed in the TDF (Stage 5) that he can win without a train and I'm not sure who is faster than him in a pure sprint. Greipel did beat him once, but Greipel seems to make a lot of mistakes with his positioning towards the end of the race. I don't think Goss is quite fast enough, but he should win his share of difficult sprints when Cav gets dropped on a climb. I'm curious about how fast Kittel is. Is he another Greipel who takes all the lower-tier races, or can he beat Cav head-to-head if he gets the chance?

How split up will Sky be in the grand tours? It will be interesting to see, but in the end I think that will hurt the GC guys more than it will hurt Cavendish.
Great insight.

I like the idea of seeing new blood challenging Cavendish. This year's blood wasn't very successful.
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Old 10-24-11, 09:36 PM   #5
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Cavendish is a top sprinter, no doubt. The question is, though, can he continue to win as many stages in a Grand Tour as he has the last few years, with a) a weaker leadout and b) going up against stiff competition, including riders that have his routine down pat.

Of course it is possible that in a year or so he'll have as good of a leadout as in recent years, but that depends on whether someone is basically willing to build a team around him again.
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Old 10-24-11, 11:10 PM   #6
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b) going up against stiff competition, including riders that have his routine down pat.
His "routine" is the same as that of every other top sprinter. If he can't suck a teammate's wheel, he'll suck a competitor's wheel, and it usually ends up the same way... he wins.

The problem (for everyone else) is that nobody can suck Cav's wheel. The second he kicks, he's gone.
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Old 10-25-11, 06:15 AM   #7
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The problem (for everyone else) is that nobody can suck Cav's wheel. The second he kicks, he's gone.
My impression is that despite appearances, there is a tactical element to sprinting -- knowing when to go, being able to track where your competitors are, how to make sure you aren't boxed in etc.

And again, Cav is strong but is hardly unbeatable -- especially if there's a slight incline at the end. He's had the benefit of an entire team, and a very good one, basically working on his behalf for a few years. After a few stages that makes a difference.
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Old 10-25-11, 10:17 AM   #8
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Of course it's tactical, and Cav is masterful with his tactics. Anyone is beatable, and more readily so when the conditions don't play to their strength. But Cav is best in two areas: (1) his ability to preserve his strength, and (2) his kick. Sky will do a decent job of setting him up, just maybe not as well as HTC did, and he'll continue to win when things go well. They don't go well for anyone all the time... and that's what keeps the races interesting.
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Old 10-25-11, 01:40 PM   #9
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Cav will still win.
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Old 10-25-11, 01:42 PM   #10
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If the luck is with him, yes he could win stages and races as usual.
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Old 10-25-11, 03:56 PM   #11
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He will still win more than any other sprinter but less than with HTC. The combination of him not having the team built around him and new talents coming into the scene (well, I hope Guardini will learn to get over the hills and that Kittel will continue to develop- his first season as a pro was more impressive than Cav's debut) should cost him a few wins. I'm also not sure if Goss isn't fast enough- Cav himself said he's one of few riders he fears in the sprint. At least he could beat Cav on the stages like the one to Cap Frehel in the Tour.
I do agree that Sky can be very good at leadouts, esp with Eisel. Apart from everything else (like Geraint doing some great leadouts in the past), having Cav in your team probably helps to get the train together, you just know he'll deliver. But in HTC no one was excused from working, Peter Velits was 3rd in GC in the Vuelta and the day before Bola del Mundo where he was supposed to be attacked by superior climbers, he had to work for Cavendish. He just won't have so many guys to send to the front at Sky. And I fear that while for example no one will have Henao working for Cav or Eisel for Wiggo, guys like Hagen or Thomas may be expected to work for both and in the end they'll be too tired to really help anyone.
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