Etixx-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevre says that Mark Cavendish needs to win at the Tour de France - personally and for the team

Mark Cavendish has won 13 times this year, but has to prove that he is still the best, said Etixx-QuickStep team boss Patrick Lefevere. The Tour de France, where Cavendish missed his second chance for a sprint victory today in Amiens, is the ultimate place to show himself.

Cavendish sprinted head-to-head against Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) today, but he faded to third as André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) zipped by for first and second.

It was the second time that Cavendish lost to Greipel in this Tour de France with few sprint opportunities. Complicating matters, Cavendish and his agent are negotiating for 2016 with Lefevere and other teams.

“He has to prove that he’s still the fastest sprinter on earth,” Lefevere told Cycling Weekly.

 

He added that a big win is needed. “The Tour has so much publicity, he needs to win here, of course. Let’s not be silly, he has to win here. First for himself, but for the team, as well.”

After crashing and abandoning the 2014 Tour on day one, Cavendish rebounded well. This 2015 season has been one of his most successful in the win column even if it lacks big wins in WorldTour races.

>>> Cavendish pays tribute to “phenomenal” Greipel

Cavendish won stages and the overall in the Dubai Tour, the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and four times in the Tour of California.

“Impressed? No because I know Mark. I know his character, he’s a winner. In the Tour de Suisse, he was a little bit under the expectations, but I saw some of the British championships on TV, and there he was quite amazing.

“I’m not impressed, he’s a winner. He has 13 wins, there were many races that weren’t WorldTour, but winning is winning.

“The most important thing is to win the first [in the Tour], if you win the first, the second becomes easier because after one week, if you don’t win, the stress comes and you start to make little mistakes and you have to avoid this.”

Andre Greipel wins stage five of the 2015 Tour de France

Andre Greipel wins stage five of the 2015 Tour de France

This week ends with only one more chance for Cavendish. He explained that tomorrow’s stage to Le Havre is too hard for the pure sprinters, but that he has a chance on Friday in Fougères. With stage 15 to Valence likely being a day for an escape instead of a sprint, the final day in Paris could be his last chance in the 2015 Tour.

>>> Mark Cavendish misses out as Greipel takes his second 2015 Tour de France stage win

His planner also includes time to negotiate a new contract. Lefevere is at the Tour for 10 days. Cavendish could re-sign with the Belgian team he joined in 2013 after leaving Sky or find a new team for 2016.

“It’s a matter of price, and it’s a matter of everything. Money is not everything, though,” added Lefevere.

Patrick Lefevre

Patrick Lefevre, Etixx-QuickStep team boss

“We’re very happy and every year he was with us, the relationship with the team has increased, he felt more and more conformable in the team, he became more and more relaxed.

“He’s a star, he’s still a star, look to Twitter, where he has more than 900,000 followers. That says a lot.”

  • Gary Kempster-Smith

    Re-watching yesterdays sprint I couldn’t see how Cav could come through from being so far back but he got to the front but Greipel was just too good.

    Has he lost his second kick that was always a killer to the other sprinters?

  • Nic Lowe

    Certainly the EQS train has not been as perfect as you’d expect to set Cav up. He has still been in the mx with the line in sight twice. Greipel has clearly raised his game – he has not had nearly enough credit for his finishes. Sagan is being praised but has also been beaten twice – his timing has been off too, leaving it too late both times. Kristoff has great form this season but has not looked likely either. The bottom line is that even 1 TDF stage win is a precious thing, Cav has 25 and may never get another. That he is still in there fighting at the front 9 years after his first TDF proves he is an all-time great.

  • It’d be even more interesting, if Kittel had come to the Tour, and been in the expected form.

  • Aurelio

    I thought the same thing. He is losing to Sagan who is not a pure sprinter. The way that he is riding 1 stage win will be awesome because I don´t think he can beat Greipel right now.

  • dourscot

    Cav’s totally off the boil – if he was losing to Greipel you’d put it down to the German’s form but he’s losing to Sagan too

    That has never happened before in a single straight sprint let alone two in succession.