Mark Cavendish won his first Tour de France stage in 2008

Milan (AFP) - Mark Cavendish says he is not thinking about beating cycling icon Eddy Merckx’s record of stage wins at the Tour De France as the veteran sprint king rolls into another season in the saddle.

Briton Cavendish is locked with Merckx on 34 wins at cycling’s most important Grand Tour and will have a go at topping that mark this summer after his 38th birthday.

“It’s just a number, you can’t make comparisons between types of cyclist and generations,” Cavendish said in an interview with newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport published on Wednesday.

“You can look at numbers and statistics. It’s an easy thing to do and that’s what people do, but I don’t.

“At the start of my career I was asked what I wanted. I said ‘if there’s a book with all the greatest cyclists, I want to be in it and I don’t care where’.”

Cavendish has 161 victories to his name, including the 2011 world championship, and has claimed the points jersey for sprinters at all three Grand Tours.

“It definitely won’t change my life, but as long as I can be a professional racer and win, that’s what I want to do. And when that’s who you are you need goals to motivate you.

“I’m not going there (the Tour de France) just to win one more time but to win as much as possible.

“Another win would make everyone else happy, but when I win a stage I immediately start thinking about the next one.”

Cavendish is currently riding for Astana at the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy but was not in the fight to win Tuesday’s stage which was taken in a photo finish by Fabio Jakobsen.

Wednesday’s third stage also looks to favour sprinters but Cavendish is unlikely to be among the front runners after getting sick following the UAE Tour.

“I really wanted to do well here, in the Milan-Torino and Milan-San Remo but I need to use this race to get my form back,” he added.

“Let’s see, it looks like both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France are in the team’s plans. We’re going to have a big summer.”