Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quickstep) says he was left with too much work to do by his leadout man Mark Renshaw at the end of the second stage of the 2015 Tour de France, won by Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).
Cavendish opened his sprint with around 300m to the line on the Neeltje Jans flood barrier but a head/crosswind saw his effort fade and his rivals Greipel, Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara pass him on the finish.
“I think Mark [Renshaw] went too early and left me hanging, and I died,” Cavendish said at the finish. “I could have waited, let them [Greipel and Sagan] jump and then jump on but that’s a risky move.
“With a headwind finish ideally I’d want to go with less than 200m to go, but I had to wind up off his [Renshaw’s] wheel with more than 300m.”
Renshaw admitted his fault on a day where, as expected, wind played havoc with the peloton. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) both lost time on a lead group of 24 including Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).
“I started the leadout a bit early. It was a slow finish, not at high speed,” said Renshaw. “Definitely he had to go a bit early, especially with Greipel and Sagan in the wheel like that.
“It’s a mistake. We’ve won a lot together but it’s a bitter pill to swallow when we messed up like that.”
Cavendish finished fourth on the stage with the four bonus second going to Fabian Cancellara, enough for the Swiss rider to take over the race lead ahead of Cavendish’s teammate Tony Martin.
The German was visibly upset to have missed out the chance to wear the maillot jaune for the first time in his career, and to sit second overall for a second day in a row after he finished second in the opening stage time trial behind Rohan Dennis.
Cavendish was pipped to fourth by a Cancellara bike throw as he ended his sprint a split second before the finish line. He expressed his disappointment for his teammate but insisted he couldn’t have done any more against a fast finishing Cancellara.
“The day Cancellara beats me in a sprint, it means I’ve gone too long, I’ve gassed it and he’s ridden it good,” Cavendish added. “It’s disappointing, Tony is disappointed, but that’s our way, to put it all in and put all our eggs in one basket.”
Etixx-Quickstep boss Patrick Lefevere also cut a dejected figure outside the team bus after a series of near misses so far in this year’s Tour.
“I’m not happy with our Tour, we lost yesterday, we lost today, and probably that was our last chance to take the yellow jersey,” he said.
“It was too early [for Cavendish to sprint] but it’s a hard stage, everybody is riding. Unfortunately Greipel and Sagan were more fresh than Mark. I think he should be disappointed.”
Cavendish has a chance to redeem himself on Wednesday’s stage five, a 189.5km journey from Arras to Amiens that should culminate in a bunch sprint.
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