Mark Cavendish: Tour de France stage four sprint finish was 'carnage'

Manxman improves on previous days result, recording fifth placed finish in Nogaro as Jasper Philipsen wins again

The bunch sprint on stage four of the 2023 Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish said that the finale of stage four of the Tour de France in Nogaro was "carnage" as he took fifth behind a rampaging Jasper Philipsen.

The Astana Qazaqstan rider explained that he gambled as he surfed through the wheels in the closing moments but that everything became “chaos” as the riders surged onto the motor racing circuit towards the line.

Speaking to the media post-stage, Cavendish said: “It was carnage. Every team would have had a plan for that final and I would bet there wasn’t any of them that went right, apart from Jumbo who were the guys into the narrow roads early.

“It was just a real mixing pot of riders in the final. I was constantly analysing who was there, who had other teammates and just jumping from train to train.”

Cavendish said that he noticed one of his rivals - Lidl-Trek’s Mads Pedersen - still had some semblance of a lead out left, something which he decided to jump onto as the riders flew into the final kilometre.

“I looked round and the only guy that had really a lead out man left that I could have jumped on was Mads, Jasper Stuyven,” Cavendish added. “So I just thought bam, I'm getting on him... then I was just waiting and waiting for them to go. But there was a headwind so they were leaving it as late as possible then just didn't go.

“At one point if I'd gone at like 350 I wouldn't have won, someone would have passed me, but I think I’d have given myself a better shot if that makes sense.”

“With a headwind there's not much you can do... I was just waiting for him to go and gambled on them going.”

The Manxman said that his reasoning for choosing Pedersen’s wheel was that his instincts told him the Dane would make his move quicker than others.

“Mads usually goes early,” he explained. “It was a block headwind finish, a long straight, wide road, so I thought I’d use that, you know.”

The sweeping roads into Nogaro’s motor racing circuit saw several crashes that Astana and Cavendish did their utmost to avoid, even if it meant taking the long way round the final roundabout of the day.

“We planned to go on the left, that was always the key,” he said. “Even Fof [Dmitriy Fofonov] was on the radio saying ‘we have to go left’ and I wanted to go left, but there was the risk of hitting it. We wanted to go left but it was better to stay safe and upright than gamble and hit the kerb I guess."

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