Tour de France: Cavendish rival targets Harrogate win

Mark Cavendish has been warned he will be targeted by his major rival as he bids for a Tour de France stage win in his mother Adele's home town.

The Isle of Man cyclist is a leading contender to win the opening stage of the Tour in Harrogate on 5 July.

But one of the race's UK organisers says sprinter Marcel Kittel's team have specifically targeted that stage.

"A win for Cavendish is not a shoo-in by any means," said Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity.

"I'm sure Marcel Kittel would like nothing better than to get one over his arch-rival in Harrogate."

Marcel Kittel Tour de France

German sprinter Marcel Kittel has emerged as Cavendish's biggest rival in the past year

Former green jersey winner Cavendish - who is tied for third on the Tour's list of all-time stage wins with 25 - saw his position as the world's top sprinter come under threat from Germany's Kittel last season.

In addition to a host of other victories in 2013, Kittel won four stages at the Tour, including the showpiece final stage sprint down the Champs-Elysees.

It was the first time that Cavendish, who rides for the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team, had been beaten on the iconic Parisian street since 2008.

And the 25-year-old's Giant-Shimano team are planning to spoil their rival's dream by beating him in Harrogate.

The 2014 race's opening stage - the first of three in England - finishes in the Yorkshire town on July 5.

"Giant-Shimano are coming over to do a recce in the next couple of weeks, and they have told me they are targeting the Harrogate stage," said Verity.

"But 5 July is also the Isle of Man's national day, which is another good thing if you believe in omens."