Cees Bol and Astana Qazaqstan Team will do everything they can over the next two and a half weeks to secure that coveted 35th stage victory in the Tour de France for Mark Cavendish, but the number itself is not a point of obsession. Cavendish is already confronted with it enough externally, according to the Dutch lead-out.
"We have done the UAE Tour, Scheldeprijs, Milan-Turin and ZLM Tour together, so those are quite a few races," explained Bol, who saw Cavendish finish sixth in the first sprint on Monday. "But it's not like we've done everything together throughout the entire season. A different race program was chosen for me so that I can occasionally chase my own opportunities as well."
"In that way, it was a mix between being a lead-out and sprinting myself, as we had discussed. It wasn't a strict requirement, but I also want to have a chance myself," said Bol, who has respect for his British team leader. "Cavendish always races to win, which is great. It's a special mindset, but that's how it should be."
Bol on Cavendish: "He radiates passion"
To the outside world, especially the press, Cavendish can sometimes come across as unpredictable. For example, during the preparatory press conference for the Tour, he would easily have a half-minute of silence before answering a question. "Of course, he radiates passion, but that's how spectators mainly get to see him. Behind the scenes, it mostly manifests as determination and passion for sprinting. He is 38 years old and no one has as much experience as him, yet he is still the most nervous person on our bus. That shows that he still has the morale of a young rider," Bol concludes.
Bol understands that Cavendish is getting tired of questions about his 35th stage victory. "A lot of people ask him about that record, but he already has it (together with Eddy Merckx, ed.). That can be irritating after a while, but he has been getting that question all year and the answer remains the same."
To continue on that pursuit, Astana Qazaqstan Team has asked one of Cavendish's old acquaintances for extra help in preparation for the Tour. "Mark Renshaw will be there for the Tour, he will ride the stages ahead. It's not that extraordinary, I think all teams do this. But that doesn't make it any less important, and he is very good at it too."