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Harrogate stands ready to hail victory for 'local' champion Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish has attempted to play down his aspirations to claim the Tour de France yellow jersey tomorrow in his mother's home town of Harrogate.

A yellow jersey in Yorkshire is his target but it is "not a given", says Mark Cavendish
A yellow jersey in Yorkshire is his target but it is "not a given", says Mark Cavendish

The 190.5-kilometre opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate could thrust Cavendish into the race leader's maillot jaune for the first time, if he can claim a 26th stage victory of his distinguished career. Eddy Merckx has the record of 34 stage wins.

The 29-year-old from the Isle of Man, whose mother Adele is from the Yorkshire town, is bidding to become the seventh British rider to lead the Tour, after Tom Simpson, Chris Boardman, Sean Yates, David Millar, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

Cavendish said: "It would be nice to wear the yellow jersey. I've not yet done that. It's not a given. There's 200 bike riders on the start line and every one of those would like to wear the yellow jersey."

Even Harrogate's Coach and Horses pub has had a name change to Cvndsh and Horses for the Grand Depart in expectation of a 'local' success.

Cavendish won, by his high standards, just two stages of last year's Tour as Marcel Kittel emerged as the premier sprinter with four wins. "I'm incredibly lucky to have won 25 stages of the Tour de France," Cavendish said. "One win in a rider's career can make their career, let alone one win per year."

He is one of four British riders to take to the start line - alongside Froome, Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates - and he had hoped there would be more, pointing to 2012 winner Wiggins and Millar, in particular. Wiggins was not selected by Team Sky and Garmin-Sharp did not pick Millar.

"In an ideal world I'd have liked to have seen more Brits at this Tour de France," he said. "Bradley [Wiggins], David [Millar] and these guys, grand tour stage winners from our country."

Froome feels different to 12 months ago, now he is defending the title. "There definitely is an increased pressure element coming back as defending champion, given we're starting on home soil, we've got huge crowds," he said.

"[But] I think it's all very warm, positive energy. I will say I'm going to give it absolutely everything, but it's not going to be a walk in the park."

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