After missing the time cut by more than half an hour, Mark Cavendish has spoken of his desire to honour the race and finish stage 11 of the Tour de France despite knowing that he was going to be eliminated from the race.
Cavendish rode much of the 108.5km between Albertville and La Rosière with just a team car and the broom wagon for company after telling his team-mates Julien Vermote and Jay Robert Thomson to leave him after descending from the first climb of the Signal de Bisanne.
“We always knew that these stages were going to be hard. As soon as I saw them in October I knew they were going to be tough but we just had to try, and today I tried I was just nowhere near fast enough,” Cavendish said at the team hotel after the stage.
“I had Julien [Vermote] and Jay [Robert Thomson] waiting for me on the first climb, but when we got to the bottom of the first descent it was evident that I could only go at my own pace on the climbs so I told them to go on.
“I’m obviously disappointed but that’s bike racing. I’m not the first person to be outside the time limit and I won’t be the last. I just have to try and come back stronger next year.”
With the time limit being set at 31-27 after stage winner Geraint Thomas, and with Cavendish already being more than half an hour down on the leaders with more than half of the stage remaining, the Manxman knew early on that he was going to be eliminated from the race.
He eventually crossed the line 1-05-32 behind Thomas, meaning that he wouldn’t have made the time limit even if it had been doubled in length, but said that he never thought of quitting midway through the stage.
“I never climb off. I climbed off as a neo-pro and I said that I’d never do it again,” Cavendish continued. It’s important to finish, and the finish line will always come. After all the work my team does for me I can’t just stop I have to honour that and the race.”