Mark Cavendish and Dimension Data team-mate Bernie Eisel rode alone for much of Saturday’s stage through the Pyrenees – and just made the time cut. Cavendish never thought he would suffer so much as he did on the eighth stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Cavendish and Eisel lost pace from the peloton on the Col du Tourmalet mid-stage and only rejoined the gruppetto at three kilometres remaining. They finished in the group of 55 at 39-24 minutes behind winner Chris Froome (Sky).
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“It was hot, I hate it in the Pyrenees,” Cavendish said after the green jersey presentation in a hot, 36°C, Bagnères-de-Luchon.
“It’s just too hot for me, I’m from the Isle of Man. I have white skin and that, I can’t deal with the heat.
“I didn’t think I’d suffer as much as I did today: I followed Peter Sagan around. He was trying to get in the breaks for the points for the green jersey. I was actually cooked by the time we got to the [Tourmalet] climb, I wasn’t that good.”
The Tour’s top sprinter and his helper topped the Tourmalet, the Hourquette d’Ancizan, the Val Louron-Azet and the Peyresourde alone. They had the numbers from the team about how fast they needed to ride to make the time cut and Cavendish said that they felt safe, but their future in the 2016 Tour became uncertain when Cavendish punctured on the Col de Peyresourde.
“To be fair, we know what watts per kilo we should ride to make it. We have a great scientist in the team who works out for us what we need to do on each climb and the descents,” said Cavendish.
“I had a puncture on the last climb, when you lose a minute when you are dealing in minute increments in the end. It’s quite tight how we planned the time cuts.”
Doug Ryder, general manager of the team, said that he wants to see Cavendish carry the green jersey through the final mountain stage on Sunday and to the rest day Monday.
“I’m cooked. I can’t deal with it, this year especially,” Cavendish said. “I haven’t been training in Italy, I’ve been on the track and I haven’t seen the sun. It wasn’t nice really.”