Mark Cavendish celebrates a stage triumph at the Tour de France on Saturday. Photo: EPA

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY: Mark Cavendish admitted on Thursday he’ll need to get lucky to win a stage at the Tour de France, which starts in Dusseldorf on Saturday.

Cavendish is second only to Belgian great Eddy Merckx in number of Tour stage victories and said in a recent interview he believes he can overtake the five-times Tour winner’s mark of 34.

But, having suffered from glandular fever earlier this year, Cavendish acknowledged that he is not in the best form to tackle the world's toughest bike race.

“Hopefully I'm not sick (any more), I don't think I’m sick. My blood results show I’m over the worst of that,” said the 32-year-old Briton, a former world champion.

“In terms of fitness, you have maybe a month off in winter then three months to prepare for the season. I had two months off and then about seven weeks to get ready for the Tour de France.

“Obviously I'm not in the ideal condition but the good thing of being a sprinter is that sometimes you can win on luck.

“If you pick the right wheels and get the right run, there’s a chance you can win.

“So it’s worth coming here with that chance as a sprinter for the sprint days - there are a lot of sprint days.”

Marcel Kittel is the man to watch in the sprints. Photo: Luk Benies, AFP

Cavendish, who has 30 stage wins to his name and claimed four last year, admitted he will be trying to keep up with German powerhouse Marcel Kittel in the sprint finishes.

“For sure Marcel Kittel is the man to watch in the sprints. He’s got the strongest team, we’ve seen he usually wins when he’s got the strongest team.

“That pressure is on him to deliver, especially with the start in Germany. He looks in good form for that.”

Kittel will have a train of teammates helping set him up for sprints with stage victories the main aim for Quick-Step at this Tour.

But their sprint train struggled last year as Kittel managed only one stage win.

Cavendish, on the other hand, excelled at feeding off his rivals’ sprint trains as his Dimension Data team did not have a comparable outfit specialised in helping him out.

And he said he will adopt the same tactics again this year, targeting Quick-Step in particular.

“I'd be a f… idiot if I didn't try to ride off strongest team in the race, that’s what cycling’s about,” said Cavendish.

2017 Tour de France stages

Stage 1: July 1, Dusseldorf (Ger) - Dusseldorf 14km Individual time trial

Stage 2: July 2, Dusseldorf - Liege (Bel) 203.5km

Stage 3: July 3, Verviers (Bel) - Longwy (Fra) 212.5km

Stage 4: July 4, Mondorf Led Bains - Vittel 207.5km

Stage 5: July 5, Vittel - La Planche Des Belles Filles 160.5km

Stage 6: July 6, Vesoul - Troyes 216km

Stage 7: July 7, Troyes - Nuits-Saint-Georges 213.5km

Stage 8: July 8, Dole Station Des Rousses 187.5km

Stage 9: July 9, Natua - Chambery 181.5km

Rest day: July 10

Stage 10: July 11, Periguex - Bergerac 178km

Stage 11: July 12, Eymet - Pau 203.5km

Stage 12: July 13, Pau - Peyragoudes 214.5km

Stage 13: July 14, Saint Girons - Foix 101km

Stage 14: July 15, Blagnac - Rodez 181.5km

Stage 15: July 16, Laissac-Severac L'Eglise Le Puy en Velay 189.5km

Second rest day: July 17

Stage 16: Le Puy en Velay -  Romans Sur Isere 165km

Stage 17: July 19, La Mure - Serre Chevalier 183km

Stage 18: July 20, Briancon - Izoard 179.5km

Stage 19: July 21, Embrun - Salon de Provence 222.5km

Stage 20: July 22, Marseille - Marseille 22.5km Individual time trial 

Stage 21: July 23, Montgeron - Paris Champs-Elyees, 103km

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter