Cavendish planning packed 2017 schedule

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Cavendish won two stages at the Abu Dhabi Tour.

Mark Cavendish feels indebted to his team, Dimension Data, following a hectic 2016 season that saw him juggle commitments and set high targets on both the road and the track, and expects to return to a heavy road schedule next year with the African outfit.

The superstar sprinter, who brought down the curtain on his road season by winning two stages at the Abu Dhabi Tour last weekend, captured Omnium silver medal on the track at the Rio Olympics, came second in the World Championships road race in Qatar earlier this month, and won gold at the Track World Championships in March.

He also grabbed four stage wins at the Tour de France in July to take his career tally to 30.

Asked if he ever had moments of doubt during the season about the ambitious list of objectives he set for himself, Cavendish told reporters in the UAE capital: “I guess so but it’s not something I’m prepared to talk about really.

“I had careful planning and I had great people around me. Team Dimension Data have been beyond supportive this year, letting me miss racing or come to racing not exactly in road fitness to be able to concentrate on the track.

“But ultimately we knew I’d come in good form to the Tour de France, that’s where it really mattered for us. There’s no bigger stage to represent the sponsors and to raise awareness for Qhubeka and put 5,000 children on bicycles.”

Cavendish may have not been willing to talk about any low points he may have experienced this season, but he did describe how tough it was splitting his time between road and track. He doesn’t expect next year to be any easier though, even though he will be going back to a road-heavy schedule.

“It’s not necessarily going to be quieter because I’ll be doing more road racing,” Cavendish said of what he expects of his 2017 season.

“I owe the team a lot from what I missed this year. The demands of road and track cycling are completely different. It’s like Andy Murray playing tennis and playing squash, they’re both racquet sports but they’re different.

“Even Peter Sagan doing the mountain bikes at the Olympics is a lot more similar to the road than what track cycling is. Those demands are going to be easier but it’s still going to be a big year hopefully.”

Overall, Cavendish has amassed 10 victories this year and he is pleased with how things unfolded.

“I’m very happy with it. I had some big targets this year and I have achieved them or came very close. Ideally I’d like to win everything but that’s my nature,” he said in Abu Dhabi.

“I gave my best this year, Team Dimension Data has been brilliant, myself and the team have got a lot of wins, I think we got close to 40 wins this year, that’s big for our first year up in the WorldTour.”

The Manxman’s season is not over yet as he has two Six-Day races ahead of him on the track, with one in London starting on Tuesday, and another in Ghent commencing on November 15 at the famous Kuipke velodrome. The 31-year-old is looking forward to teaming up with Bradley Wiggins in what he expects to be a special occasion for the pair.

“I love it, it’s going to be hard, Ghent is known to be crazy hard, the demands on the riders is a lot. But for me, the stadium is steeped in history, a lot of great riders have ridden there,” said Cavendish, who won the Madison title with Wiggins at Worlds this year.

“To be riding with Brad as World Champions is special, it’ll be like the Eddy Merckx and Patrick Sercu days. There are always a lot of British spectators there and I love racing in Belgium. I got close to winning with Iljo Keisse a couple of years. I’d like to win it this year. I’m not done yet for 2016.”

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