Mark Cavendish, one day after being disappointed with his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team, blamed himself for missing the Tirreno-Adriatico sprint win in Narni Scalo, Italy, on stage three.
“Maybe you can say that I let the boys down today,” Cavendish said in a post-stage press conference.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) hitched himself on the wheel of André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) coming in to the closing metres of a wet stage through Umbria.
Cavendish, without team-mates, moved up and tried to squeeze between Greipel and Sagan. Sagan would not budge and won the sprint.
The Belgian team, according to Cavendish, did what it had to do. It was committed today and yesterday, he said.
“The guys stayed with me, they did an incredible job,” Cavendish added. “They did 100% committed job yesterday. I think it was misinterpreted that ’cause it didn’t work as it did that there wasn’t 100% commitment, but there was yesterday and there was today, and as you can see, I was in a lot better position.”
The Belgian express became derailed yesterday in Indicatore.
Tony Martin, Niki Terpstra and, the final lead-out man, Gert Steegmans led Cavendish. Steegmans told Cycling Weekly that Martin’s timidness caused the train to slow down. According to Steegmans, he braked at a crucial moment with 1100 metres to go.
“I’m quite disappointed in my lead out to be fair,” Cavendish said 24 hours ago. “I know they can be better than that.”
Cavendish said that the team would talk at dinner to sort out any problems. Today went differently for the team, but Cavendish could not answer Sagan after the rolling and rainy run into Narni Scalo.
“Gert brought me up in the last 500 metres. I tried to get on Greipel’s wheel. Peter Sagan did a really good job of fighting me back for it, so I went on his wheel,” Cavendish explained.
“We’re slightly behind; we were already spinning out because we were going so fast. It’s difficult to start early ’cause someone’s always coming from behind so I gambled and tried to stay behind a bit. In the end, I ran out of metres to come passed Peter.”
He added that Tour Down Under winner, Tom Jelte Slagter (Blanco) broke up the Omega Pharma train with five kilometres to race. To avoid crashing, Cavendish said, he had to go the long way around.
Mark Cavendish in the post-stage three press conference
Last year, Cavendish came away with one of Tirreno-Adriatico’s two sprint stages. His then Sky team-mate, Edvald Boasson Hagen won the other that was just down the road from today’s finish.
Cavendish this year missed his only two chances.
“It was a difficult climb to be fair. [Cannondale] went hard, I lost a couple of positions, but I was happy to hang on,” he said. “We can take a lot of good stuff from that. The team worked well considering. We can be happy with how it went, but obviously not for the result.”
The rest of the race offers little for Cavendish. He will help GC leader Tony Martin in the early kilometres of the stages, including tomorrow’s summit finish to Prati di Tivo. For the remainder, he will be racking up important training time.
A question was asked about his fitness, which led Cavendish to underline that he is not aiming for Milan-San Remo.
“I’m fit, but if you are hinting at San Remo, I can’t win San Remo,” Cavendish continued. “I can’t win it. Stop asking, I can’t win San Remo.”
His remaining Tirreno time, therefore, will build his fitness to help him though San Remo and towards Belgium, where he will take aim at the Ghent-Wevelgem and Scheldeprijs one-day races.
Peter Sagan wins, with Mark Cavendish (left) in second