Mark Cavendish admitted he was disappointed to leave the Dubai Tour without a victory but happy with his overall performance at his first race of 2017, after suffering a mechanical problem that halted his sprint on the final stage won by Marcel Kittel.
The Manxman has been hunting his first win of the season at the five-stage race in Dubai, although he admitted before the race began he was unsure of his form due to his late finish to the 2016 season.
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However, after suffering a puncture on stage one the 31-year-old endured another problem on the closing stage with his gears getting stuck, which prevented him challenging for the win. Cavendish finished fourth, while Kittel secured his third win of the race and the overall title for the second consecutive year.
“I didn’t get any wins but I think after working throughout the week as a team we were incredible, that was exactly as we planned to execute today except obviously a win. But I’m happy,” the Dimension Data rider told press after the stage.
Despite being led-out exactly as he wanted during the final one kilometre and having a position on Kittel’s back wheel on the final few hundred metres, Cavendish said his gears wouldn’t shift down preventing him from opening his sprint. He hit his bars in frustration as he rolled over the line.
“My gears wouldn’t stay in the 11 [sprocket] going from the 12, I thought I had it perfect and when I went to kick….one time it flicked my back wheel,” he said. “I don’t know what that is.”
He continued: “For us the finish line was one and a half kilometre to go. If we had anybody extra there it was good, so we had Reiney [Reindart Janse van Rensburg] and Mark [Renshaw] in the last corner which was more than we wanted really.
“We knew Quick-Step would come late, the thing is not to get swamped in that corner so we thought if we could get first in that we’d use Quick-Step then.
“We had one guy left over, and then going into the last corner we knew it was coming onto clinkers [concrete]. I’m a little nervous when someone is inside and Trentin [Quick-Step] was coming inside, so I just backed off and let him come through, then when I saw him and Mark, I saw Kittel and lost his wheel.
“I thought I could maybe play a bit and use Kittel to bridge the gap there, which it worked out I was sweetly on his wheel. I knew then he’d have to launch early at 200 and I could come back then but… it didn’t quite work like that.”
Cavendish said he would next possibly be racing at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal on February 15-19, before the Abu Dhabi Tour on February 23.
“I felt brilliant today actually, the team were brilliant today,” he continued. “Yeah it seems like there’s something every day.”