Mark Cavendish survived a brutal day of climbing on stage two of the Tour of California that was “like sitting on the indoor trainer for seven hours.”
The Dimension Data sprinter slipped out the back of the peloton with 80km still to race on the road to Lake Tahoe.
Stage two of the seven-day race covered 214.5km from Rancho Cordova near Sacramento through the Eldorado National Forest and finishing at the southern edge of the lake, taking in more than 4,000 metres of climbing.
The consist rise in the parcours caused huge time gaps on only the second day of racing, as Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Kasper Asgreen rode to victory.
Cavendish finished 36-09 down on the stage winner, alongside team-mate and faithful lieutenant Bernhard Eisel.
The Brit said on Twitter after the stage: “Well glad that’s out the way. Always the stage I dread most in the cycling season.
“Racing up to Lake Tahoe in the Tour of California was like sitting on the indoor trainer for seven hours. Half of it with just Bernhard Eisel for company. Like a re-run of our day in 2016.”
Cavendish was the second from last rider to cross line, as Novo Nordisk’s Fabio Calabria rounded out the day 47-35 down on the front group.
The race organisers set the time cut at 60 minutes to avoid a mass departure of riders.
Trek-Segafredo’s Tom Skujinš also suffered on the stage, finishing in a group of 27 riders 26-19 down.
Skujinš said: “Not the day I was expecting at the Tour of California.
“Really disappointed that I couldn’t be there for my team, but turned into the hardest day since racing the Tour of the Gila in 2014 with Hincapie Racing.”
Asgreen, Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) and Gianni Moscon (Team Ineos) were the only riders left to battle for the win at the line, with Asgreen riding away to take stage victory.
Van Garderen’s strong showing puts him into the leader’s jersey with a six-second advantage over Moscon overall.