After limiting Mark Cavendish’s support to just two riders for the last two flat sprint stages
in the 2012 Tour de France
, Team Sky put pretty much the whole team to the front for the run-in to today’s finish in Saint Quentin.
Cavendish ended up on the floor on yesterday’s run-in to Rouen but was in a fit enough state to contest today’s gallop.
But according to team principle Dave Brailsford, Sky’s move to the front in the stage’s closing miles was as much about protecting Bradley Wiggins from chaos in the bunch charge as offering Cavendish more support for the gallop.
“From Bradley’s point of view we’re getting closer to the mountains and -there’s today and tomorrow left-so we’re like ‘OK guys it’s time to commit to the front of this race’,” he said. “That’s what we did from about 30km out. We said we’re going to really try and ride hard at the front to protect Mark plus protect Bradley.”
As the finish approached, Wiggins himself took a pull on the front of the bunch. Brailsford dismissed any suggestion that this could be wasting energy ahead of the mountains.
“The key thing is we know the safest place to be is at the front of the bunch. For Brad to do 500m at the front doesn’t take much out of him. It was sensible thing to do and the safe thing to do.
“If he was at home training for the mountains this Saturday he’d be doing a harder effort than that, that’s for sure. He’ll recover and it won’t affect him.”
Cavendish eventually finished fifth behind Andre Greipel who claimed his second stage win in a row. Nonetheless, Brailsford described the Team Sky ride as ‘a super performance’. This followed some suggestion of discontent among Wiggins’ helpers yesterday.
“We had a good chat this morning as a group and we really want to pull together as a group and say let’s commit to this with a bit more intent,” said Brailsford. “Sometimes you think you can just get through it and hover but that can make you a bit lethargic.
“If everybody’s got a bit more responsibility and a bit of a job, there’s a bit more intent and purpose and that’s what we demonstrated today.”
Brailsford praised Cavendish’s “guts and determination to get back up and put himself in the mix” after yesterday’s crash.
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