If there's one thing that's clear from the last few weeks of pre-Tour news, it's that Mark Cavendish has to be the wiliest media operator in the business.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

Going for green? Not going for green? Not riding the Tour at all? Under-supported? Over-supported? Perpetual speculation has followed the Manxman like a magnet, all the while the road world champion has quietly gone about his business.

Whenever there has been an official response from Team Sky, or Cavendish the answers have always been cryptic.

When Sky announced its Tour team last week team principal Dave Brailsford explained that the green jersey was still a goal.

"Our priority this year is the General Classification with Bradley but that doesn't mean we'll neglect the sprint stages, or Mark's bid for green jersey."

To Cycling Weekly days before Brailsford had been toeing a similar line.

"(Cavendish)'s disadvantaged in that he doesn't have the full lead out train that he's had in the past and the competition is stiffer now than it was, but I wouldn't write him off.

"He's at his best when his back's against the wall. He's not the world champion for nothing."

Cavendish's words meanwhile have been far less simply stated. In April, he told Cyclingnews' Daniel Friebe that not only did he fully intend to finish the Tour de France, but that he would be chasing the green jersey.

"I still want to win both (the Tour green jersey and the Olympic road race). I'll finish the Tour de France. Unless I get eliminated, I'll finish it," he said.

At a Team Sky press conference on Tuesday however Cavendish's bid for green was back into question.

"I don't think stage wins alone will be enough to win the green jersey this year, you'll have to go for the intermediates as well," he told the assembled press. "I haven't got my eyes on green to be honest but of course there's always a chance."

Strangely that line was in the same press conference as telling journalists that he was "in the best shape he'd been before the Tour".

Headlines followed on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning (GMT) that Cavendish had ruled himself out of a bid for the green jersey, but to me his words were far from definite.

Words aside, what do we actually know about Cavendish's preparation for the Tour de France? We know he's lighter than he's ever been, and his climbing has significantly improved.

He showed at the Ster ZLM Toer that that may have come at cost to his straight line speed, but considering his own analysis of this year's Tour: "stage wins alone will not be enough", it's apparent that Cavendish has tailored his abilities to better contend for green.

Granted the spectre of Box Hill at the London Olympic Games has also been a motivator, Cavendish cannot be underestimated for the maillot vert. In fact I'd argue that he's playing down his own chances, much like Thomas Voeckler did at last year's Tour de France, to play his own little games.

Andre Greipel may have better support, but Cavendish has shone in the past sans lead-out. The Brit himself has pointed to the 2010 Tour de France, or the World Championships in Copenhagen as prime examples.

And Cav's apparent rivals for green, Matt Goss, Peter Sagan, JJ Rojas, Philippe Gilbert and Greipel have but a handful of Tour wins between them.

While his Olympic road race aspirations may be seen as a detraction by some, all of the above will be chasing the same goal themselves, so why can't Cavendish do the double?

Far from an outside bet, yellow and green are distinct possibilities for Sky in Paris.

What do you think?