Mark Cavendish feeling confident after sixth in first Tour de France sprint opportunity

Manxman in contention in Bayonne in stage won by Jasper Philipsen

Mark Cavendish at the 2023 Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish said he would take heart from his performance in the first sprint opportunity on stage three of the Tour de France, where he came sixth.

After solid work from the Astana Qazaqstan lead-out train which put him in a good position coming into the finale, the Manxman finished behind a rampaging Jasper Philipsen who grabbed his first victory of this year’s edition.

Speaking to the media post-stage, Cavendish said he was “happy” with his personal performance and that of his team, despite missing out on the win.

“Yeah I'm happy with that,” he said. “Ok, obviously, we'd like to win, but I'm happy with how the boys rode, I'm happy with the speed. You see the team are up there with more dialled teams, the teams that do it day-in, day-out.

“We had a plan to get me at the front there, with 2km to go, into that u-turn, that's what the boys committed too, that's what they did perfect. So actually it was job complete there, it was just down to me trying to find the right wheels after that.”

Cavendish explained that prior to stage three, Astana had already decided that the final phase of the stage was not ideal for the Manxman and was more suited to his rivals, particularly riders with the physique of Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert or other more puncheur-like sprinters.  

“I was OK. I'm happy with the speed, 500m to go, I wasn't even in the top-10, maybe 15th position. I'm happy with that… We said at the beginning that that's not the best kind of finish for me, it was more for someone like Jonathan Milan or Wout van Aert,” Cavendish added.

“I had to wait until it went up to get on top of the gear… I'm happy with that. I can take confidence for the next few days.”

Coming into the Tour, Astana acquired the services of Cavendish’s former teammate Mark Renshaw as a sprint consultant for the race. The Manxman explained that the team were already reaping the rewards of Renshaw’s precise work which enabled them to get a clearer picture of the stage finale.

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