312b3f299e868210VgnVCM200000e66411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q3Cavendish is the king of the road212b3f299e868210VgnVCM200000e66411ac____Cavendish is the king of the roadAt 24, he is the most successful British cyclist of all time and looks set to add to that tally over the next three weeks.<p>At 24, Mark Cavendish is already the most successful British cyclist of all time.
In his final major event before tomorrow's Tour de France starts - the Tour of Switzerland - he surpassed countryman Chris Boardman's previous tally of 41 career wins as he surged to victory on stage six.
And "Cav", as he is known in the peloton, looks set to comfortably add to that tally on Gallic Tarmac over the next three weeks. The racer from the Isle of Man - an island with a meagre of population of just 75,000 - is the fastest man on two wheels.</p>
<p>Put him in a straight-line sprint against any of the world's top speed men and he is unrivalled. And he is certainly not lacking in confidence or modest about his abilities for that matter.
"I know I'm the quickest out there - I've proved that," he said. "And I know that there's no one out there who can beat me when I'm at my best. I'm not quite at that right now, although I'm in better form than I expected going into the Tour and I should peak during the race."</p>
<p>An "off-form" Cavendish has already chalked up 15 race wins this season, including the prestigious Milan-san-Remo day race and three stages at the Giro d'Italia, second only to the Tour de France in stage racing.
Cavendish insists there is no secret to his success, although he admits a fear of losing has been an overriding force since he first took up cycling as a BMX enthusiast, second perhaps only to his pleasure in winning.</p>
<p>"It's sometimes difficult to put into words what it's like winning," he said. "It really is unbelievable. There's so much more that goes into it than crossing the line in front. You've got riders on your team jostling to get you in the right position for that win.
"Every other team is trying to do the same thing and the build up just gets more and more intense. It's like crafting something powerful and then, bam, when you cross the line it's the ultimate reward. It's ecstasy, elation, call it want you want.</p>
<p>"But the reward's not just for me. I'm the guy with my hands up in the air celebrating but there are other riders who got me there [most notably his main lead-out man, Australian Mark Renshaw] and the win's as much for them as me. Without them, I'm nothing as a rider."
On form, it appears that no one can stop Cavendish for sheer power, although some partial modesty creeps into his mindset when he talks about tomorrow's Tour start.</p>
<p>Cavendish has ridden just two Tours de France before. Despite winning four stages last year, he is not entirely convinced it was a success after failing to finish the race, nor is he sure he will make it to Paris this time and win the coveted green jersey, for the most consistent sprinter in the field.
"I've not finished a Tour de France before so talking about the green jersey is premature," he said. "I'm hopeful of making it to Paris. I've worked on my climbing to make those tough days in the Alps and Pyrenees less painful but I'm not sure I'm a good enough bike rider to make it all the way there.</p>
<p>"But the green jersey is the aim. If I make it to the final week, I'll definitely be going for it. I want to be staying out there and fighting all the way to the end. That's the goal first and foremost. It's the one I'm working towards right now. I want to be in Paris but I also want to have as many stage wins as possible under my belt by then."
The wins look set to continue coming thick and fast for Cavendish. In fact, the only blot on his racing copybook so far has been at the Olympics. He was the sole member of Team GB in Beijing not to win a medal.</p>
<p>Unfortunately for Cavendish, he was teamed up with Bradley Wiggins in the madison and Wiggins, by his own admission, had run out of steam following his gold- medal-winning rides in the individual and team sprints.
The pair never looked like winning a medal and the whole Olympics fiasco, as Cavendish called it, left him embittered, having turned down some lucrative race appearances to be something of an also ran.</p>
<p>Afterwards he said he had turned his back on track cycling and the Olympics but he has since softened his stance.
"There are some things you say in the heat of the moment that I really meant at the time," he said. "But I've since changed my stance on that. Track cycling is still a big boost to my sprinting on the road so it's an important side of my training and I'd be stupid not to want to go for gold in London at the 2012 Games. I think I overreacted but I think that's all gone now."</p>
<p>Cavendish is a cycling nut, describing himself as a "cycling bore". When not competing on the road or track, he is never far from a bike. He cycles on his BMX to the shops and is partial to mountain biking when given the chance.
The Team Columbia High Road rider now lives in Italy, which he describes as his second home and where he loves living. With cycling being big business in Italy, he is an instantly recognisable face wherever he goes, unlike back in the UK where he describes himself as a "virtual nobody".</p>
<p>With cycling on the up in the wake of the Olympics and Cavendish almost certain to grab a handful of wins during the Tour, his notoriety on British shores looks set to change come the end of July.
It is not the trappings of fame but of victory that drive him on. "If I keep on winning I don't mind if not a single person recognises me again," he added.
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