at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Bonneval, France – World champion Mark Cavendish has brushed off suggestions his “difficult” Tour de France campaign working for yellow jersey holder Bradley Wiggins means he is unhappy at Team Sky.
Cavendish claimed his second win of this year's race on Friday when he rocketed to victory in the 18th stage.
It took his career tally on the race to 22, having claimed 20 victories over five previous editions of the race – four on his second campaign in 2008, six in 2009 and five each in 2010 and 2011.
Although “proud” to be part of a team that is set to produce Britain's first yellow jersey champion in Wiggins, Cavendish admits his first Tour in the black and blue colours of Sky has not been easy.
“It's great to be part of the team, what they're doing this year, but it obviously puts me in a difficult situation,” Cavendish said after Friday's stage to Brive-la-Gaillarde.
“I'm part of a team but I'm not doing what I can do as an individual rider. It's like Wayne Rooney playing in defence. You can still win the match but you can't do your part of that to the best of your ability.
“It hasn't been the easiest thing, obviously.”
Cavendish joined Sky last year on a four-year contract said to be worth three times his previous deal at HTC, who had built their entire team around him for the sprint stages of the race from 2008 to 2011.
Even before his maiden Tour with Sky there were doubts over Cavendish's ability to sacrifice individual glory for the greater cause of Wiggins' yellow jersey.
On Friday, Cavendish admitted: “When you're used to winning five stages a year every year, it can make you hungry for sprints.”
Rumours circulating around the Tour village have suggested that only one year into his lucrative four-year deal, Cavendish could be looking for a team where can which is dedicated entirely to him.
Asked to comment on his predicament, Cavendish would only say: “I've still got three years of my contract left with Sky.”
Cavendish's win on Friday meant he equalled the previous record of 22 stage wins held by a sprinter on the race, Frenchman Andre Darrigade.
On Sunday's ride to the Champs Elysees, where he has won three times consecutively since 2009, he is hoping to make it 23. – Sapa-AFP