Mark Cavendish explains mid-race frustration to viewers during Tour of Britain breakaway

The 'Manx Missile' became frustrated with the motorbikes helping two riders the break had deliberately dropped

Mark Cavendish
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish explained to TV viewers about how motorbikes have an effect on the race, while he was racing in the breakaway on stage six of the Tour of Britain.

Cavendish (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) had made it into a talented breakaway along with team-mate Tim Declercq early on in the stage, but became frustrated with the motorbike sitting behind the leaders after they dropped a dangerous rider for the overall in Mark Donovan (DSM).

The 36-year-old was seen shouting and gesticulating towards the camera bike as they tried to distance Donovan, the breaking trying to prevent the peloton from chasing. 

>>> Wout van Aert powers to a hat-trick win on stage six of Tour of Britain 2021

Cavendish took a moment when the bike pulled alongside to explain his annoyance before cameras cut away. He said: "For all you people at home, these motorbikes have a bearing on the race. The guys are sat on them..." 

Before that rather comical moment of the 34-time Tour de France stage winner adding some commentary while racing he was shouting at the motorbike.

"You're helping them. What's wrong with you?" before shaking his head.

These feisty moments were compiled into a montage by the GCN Racing Twitter page.

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In a research piece conducted in 2019 by Professor Bert Blocken of Eindhoven University, it was revealed that riders do get a huge amount of help from a motorbikes presence, even from as far as 30 metres. 

If a rider is at 30m behind the motorbike, drag is reduced by 12 per cent which would give a rider an advantage of 2.6 seconds every minute over a rider who did not have that support.

If a rider is cycling at 54km/h without a motorbike in front then the presence of a motorbike will allow them to ride at 67km/h, providing a time gain of 14.1 seconds every minute, depending on how close that bike is.

Cavendish was looking for a potential win on an unlikely stage in an unusual manner to what we're used to seeing from him, as he took on the day's break over tough terrain that covered three Pennine mountain passes and several tough kicks that even saw him put in a couple of solo attacks.

However, it wasn't to be for Cavendish who, along with his fellow breakaway riders, was caught with around 15km to go as various teams were looking to close the break down so they could have a go at a possible stage win.

Cavendish was also involved in the bunch sprint the day before on stage five into Warrington, where he finished fifth behind stage winner and leader's jersey Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) after he had to put a lot of energy in to get back to the wheels after narrowly avoiding a late crash. 

Tim Bonville-Ginn
Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!


I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.


It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.


After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.


When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.


My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.