Cavendish: ‘Something was very wrong’ in Milan-Sanremo
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cavendish: ‘Something was very wrong’ in Milan-Sanremo

by VeloNation Press at 10:08 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Milan-Sanremo
 
Should Sky have given Boasson Hagen more support?

Mark CavendishMark Cavendish is known as a rider who experiences highs and lows of emotions, relishing in success but also stating that he feels acute disappointment when things don’t go to plan.

Yesterday was a case of the latter, with his aim to become only the fifth rider to win Milan-Sanremo as world champion crumbling apart when he was dropped on the climb of Le Manie.

Even if climbing isn’t his forte, his pre-race statements that he was in the same shape as when he won the race in 2009 plus at a similar weight to his Tour de France condition meant that expectations were high.

As a result, many were surprised to see him crack so early in the race.

Cavendish withdrew after his Sky Procycling team chased for a long time. Their efforts reduced the gap to 40 seconds but, with energy running low and the realization that he’d be spent anyway for the Cipressa and Poggio climbs, Cavendish called off the pursuit with less than an hour’s racing to go.

Today, giving his thoughts in a brief Twitter message, the Manxman said that he didn’t understand how things had unfolded. “Yesterdays race gets filed in my #worstdaysofmycareer list. Something was VERY wrong. No explanation, but I let down an incredible group.”

He and his team will try to identify the problem in the days ahead. His right-hand man Bernhard Eisel also expected that they’d be in the mix towards the finish, and was equally surprised.

“Mark and I did fall early on but it was nothing serious, just a domino effect in the bunch,” he said on the team website. “I felt someone touch me behind and that caused my wheel to touch Mark's. We both got up straightaway and were soon back on.

"From then on we were always towards the front and Mark was in a good position going into Le Mànie. It's always like a bunch sprint leading up to that but I was on the front and Mark was not far back. He struggled on that climb though and then he was also struggling on the flat just before the second feedzone.”

Eisel explained that he and Cavendish accepted it was game over quite a while before the team stopped chasing.

"After speaking to him it was me who originally made the call for the guys to stop riding on the front of that chase group,” he said. “But then we changed our mind because if we got back on then it meant some of us could work for Edvald [Boasson Hagen] instead, so that's what we tried to do.”

However crosswinds on the coastal roads made that pursuit an impossible task, and they had to accept defeat.

Boasson Hagen was left with just one rider as support, namely Thomas Löfkvist. It was possibly an error of judgement on the team’s part to give such as strong rider just one helper, given that he was named beforehand as Sky's second protected rider.

The Norwegian eventually got caught out when the chasing group split on the descent. He finished in a small bunch twenty seconds behind the day’s winner Simon Gerrans, placing 25th.

He won’t be satisfied with his placing, and the team leaves Italy knowing that the day was far short of its own expectations.

Eisel regards it as an off-day for Cavendish, coming at the wrong moment. "Mark just didn't have it today, it's as simple as that,” he said. “He was going well in Tirreno but seemed to be lacking some horsepower out there today. It's a shame because he really wanted to win this and he's disappointed, for sure."

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