His first UCI road victory in almost a year was a bitter sweet affair for Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) as he rued missing out on taking the leader’s jersey at the Dubai Tour because he sat-up in the sprint a day before.
Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) took the leader’s jersey despite finishing sixth on the day after former leader Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) was deducted 20 seconds for drafting his team car following a mechanical problem.
Cavendish said: “I was happy with how today’s sprint went, obviously. I am a bit disappointed now that I sat up in the sprint yesterday. I’m a bit angry with myself, more than I let myself down I let the team down I could have been in the jersey now if I didn’t sit up yesterday. I couldn’t have won yesterday but for sure I could have been second.
“I can only apologise to my teammates for that.”
The Manxman finished fourth on Wednesday’s stage two but had stopped sprinting after he realised he was beaten to the win.
He added: “Yesterday, I realised I couldn’t really match Elia in a drag strip race so I knew [today] I just had to had to leave it late. I had to wait until he had passed his initial peak and he was settled into his sprint and use the slingshot to pass by him.”
With Thursday’s win he equalled his tally of UCI-ranked road wins from his illness and injury disrupted 2017 season.
Cavendish also revealed that he is still riding while suffering the long lasting effects of his broken shoulder blade sustained at the Tour de France last year.
“I still feel it when I keep pushing on my shoulder, where the hole in the bone was is where the scapular nerve passes over, so I still get pins and needles and I will do for the rest of my life. It’s irrelevant what I do from now it effects me for the rest of my life not just my career,” he said.
The Dimension Data rider also praised his “wicked full African leadout” that his team-mates gave him into the race’s final big corner at 3km to go.
When asked if the win gave him confidence for the rest of his coming Middle East block of racing and subsequent races in the season, he said: “Any win for any sprinter adds confidence.
“But you can see that there are some really strong teams here. That Quick-Step team, I built that team, they are really just a class above in the sprints. Cofidis look good and Lotto-Jumbo look good too.”
Kittel and Katusha settle for third
Meanwhile, Katusha-Alpecin’s star signing Marcel Kittel, who dominated this race last year, professed to be happy with third place.
“I think we did the best lead out of the whole Dubai Tour. I’m personally very happy with it, I could show my speed.
“In the end I came a bit late and came close to getting that victory. Everyone was super motivated and did a super good job it’s maybe not the victory but it’s a third place, it’s a step forward. We have tomorrow and then the last stage another chance for a bunch sprint,” he said.
He added: “Yesterday I finished the race with an angry feeling, today I finished the race with a happy feeling, everyone in the team did.”
Clearly the progress he felt he was witnessing in the team gave him hope for Saturday’s final bunch sprint. “We’ll take our experiences from the last three days into that,” he said.