AURAY // Mark Cavendish insists he'll be the Tour de France's leading sprinter despite failing to win either of the opening two stages. The Briton, 23, is generally regarded as the quickest man in cycling, but has upset many of his rivals in the peloton by repeatedly talking up his ability.
But he said: "I don't lie. I just say it as it is. If you say you're the quickest sprinter out there you have to justify it and I've done that so I can say it. "I don't think that makes me cocky, I'm just telling the truth, I'm the quickest guy at this Tour and I'll go on to prove it." Cavendish picked-up two stage wins at May's Giro d'Italia and in March was crowned the world champion on the track .
And he admitted that his desire for victory only partially explained his impressive results in 2008, during which he has already picked up eight major road-race wins during the season. "I have a fear of losing and I'm a bad loser," he said. "When I was an amateur it wasn't so bad as I was only winning for myself and, if I didn't win, I only ended up disappointing myself. "But now I have a team that's 100 per cent behind me and I have to repay them for all the amazing work they do.
"And when I fail to win for them it really kills me - even when they don't seem that bothered. And that just as much as winning, in fact more so, keeps the drive up not to get beaten." Today's 208km third stage from Saint Malo to Nantes should play to Cavendish's strengths as a sprinter with none of the late inclines of the previous two days that made things tough. As for the secret of his speed in the home straight, he's very clear. He said: "It's all about having a good team, first and foremost. A sprinter is nothing without his team.
"They're the ones that do the leg work and put you in the position to get a win. All I do is leap forward at the end and steal the limelight." Expect him to do just that in Nantes today. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org