Mark Cavendish has said that reports of a rivalry between him and Fabio Jakobsen over a Tour de France spot are “lazy”.
The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sprinting pair are thought to be competing over one position in the team’s Tour squad, with Jakobsen currently in pole position. Cavendish is heading to the Giro d’Italia this week.
Talking to Orla Chennaoui and Greg Rutherford on Eurosport’s new podcast series, ‘The Breakdown ‘, Cavendish said: “It’s an easy story to make, ‘am I or am I not going’ or ‘is my teammate going.’ It’s an easy story, but it’s quite a lazy story too because it’s that easy. “
The Manxman has won three races this season, while Jakobsen has won six races. Cavendish said that the pair are there for each other, and that the thought of a rivalry being created “scares” him.
“Fabio and myself have supported each other so much over the last few years,” he said. “The last thing I want and the last thing he wants and the one thing that scares me about all of this is for any sort of rivalry to be created between us.
“We’ve been there for each other. I only know that from experience, from knowing what happens when the press wants to create a rivalry. It’s not really that nice. Unfortunately, it does start to cause friction and we’re not like that and we don’t want to be like that.
“I’m quite reluctant to talk about it because I don’t want to fall out with a mate because of something that’s out of our control. What’s in my control is not talking about it so that those outside influences that are out of my control can’t affect it. “
Jakobsen has also previously rejected talk of a rivalry, saying that while his “planning” was aimed towards the Tour, but could not say for sure if he would be in the team as it is “always the best that goes”.
Cavendish will race the Giro this week, which hints at him not racing the Tour. He has won 15 stages at the Italian Grand Tour in the past, although he has not ridden it since 2013, during his former stint with Quick-Step.
At last year’s Tour, the sprinter equalled Eddy Merckx’s record for stage wins at the race, but may have to wait to attempt to break the record. He said that he knew that there was a lot of support out there for him to break the magical 34 number.
“I really feel it, but there was that going in 2016 and I didn’t do the Tour for the next few years after that,” Cavendish said. “If I can win 50 more stages of the Tour, I want to win 50 more stages of the Tour. It doesn’t bother me.
“At the same time, there are some people who want Fabio going to the Tour so that I’m not going to the Tour, not for Fabio to go.
“It’s a small demographic, but it’s a chip. It’s a small demographic that does the biggest thing. Whoever goes to the Tour, the other 22 [on the team] will be glued screaming at the TV, you can guarantee that. It’s not right that it’s made to be someone else’s narrative that isn’t that. It pisses me off in a way. “
The 36-year-old also said that his return to success in the past year has given him a chance to appreciate his fans a lot more.
“Honestly from a selfish point of view, I was just consumed [with] what I was doing, “Cavendish said.” Something I learned last year – actually it wasn’t even last year – it was the years that I was just a spectator. Fans are not watching you on your journey. They’re living that journey with you. It hadn’t occurred to me for the best part of my career. Then last year with coming back, I felt this warmth from people – it’s not ‘Yee-haw!’ “
“They’ve lived that whole journey. It was proper humbling. It proper opened my eyes. Most people don’t see it. I didn’t see it my whole career. It’s beautiful. I wish I could turn back time and know. what I know [now] – what being a fan of sports means. I feel like I’ve always tried to give time. You can’t obviously give time to everyone.
“Obviously you speak to 100 fans and you can’t speak to one unfortunately. I didn’t speak to everyone I could have in the past and I wish I did.”