Mark Cavendish said he was ‘devastated’ as a record breaking 35th Tour de France stage win slipped through his fingers in Bordeaux on Friday afternoon.
The Astana-Qazaqstan rider recorded his best result yet at this year’s Tour - second behind Jasper Philipsen - but was left bitterly disappointed after the Belgian powered past him within metres of the line.
Cavendish bettered his performances in Bayonne and Nogaro, but it was still not enough to beat a flying Philipsen.
Speaking to the media outside the Astana team bus in Bordeaux, Cavendish explained that he was “frustrated” as he had suffered mechanical issues with his bike in the closing metres which affected his sprint as he jumped for the line.
“The boys did good, they were incredible,” he said. “I jumped when I wanted to but unfortunately I had a problem with my gears when I was sprinting. I went from the 11 to the 12, and then back to the 11.
“I'm pretty devastated actually. The boys did good, I got a good jump, but in those situations it's just not meant to be. By 30, 40m to go, I already had to sit down and stand up again, and my gears were jumping. It's not belief then, it's hope. It is what it is, we try again.”
Cavendish piled praise on his Astana teammates for their perfectly timed leadout, saving special mention for Cees Bol’s contribution which very nearly brought the victory.
“Cees was amazing,” Cavendish added. “He's like an assassin. He does what he needs to do, smoothly. Cees is pretty amazing. He was there, moving me up, he knows that he has to work earlier than the actual leadout to get me into position, and he'll do that. He did perfectly to get me on the right wheels going into the last km. It was just a case of timing when I jumped.”
When asked if he has the speed to eventually get the better of Philipsen in this edition of the Tour, the Astana man explained he was full of belief in his own capabilities. Cavendish also explained that a few teams may have been unhappy with the Belgian’s sprint as the peloton surged into Bordeaux; Philipsen was upheld as the winner.
“I think so [has the speed to beat Philipsen]. I'd imagine, there might be a couple of teams protesting against Philipsen anyway today,” Cavendish said. “He didn't impede me at all, so it's not for me to discuss.
“I was in quite a good position, I was far back, but I was ok and where I wanted to be. It was a long straight finish. Cees [Bol] moved me up with good speed into the last kilometre. I was on the right wheels.”
As he analysed the closing metres of the race, the Manxman explained that he timed his final kick for the line to a similar point as to where he made a similar jump when he last won in Bordeaux in the Tour, back in 2010.
“I kicked a little earlier than I liked, but it was about the same time that I did in 2010,” he explained. “Once I kicked, my gears jumped and the cadence was whacked up. There's nothing you could do except try and hope.
“I'm bitterly disappointed there, like really majorly disappointed but we keep on trying.”
Cavendish will get another chance in Moulins on stage 11, with the Manxman unlikely to feature on a lumpy stage eight on Friday to Limoges. History still waits.
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