Cavendish reveals fallout with Yates while part of Team Sky’s 2012 Tour de France team
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cavendish reveals fallout with Yates while part of Team Sky’s 2012 Tour de France team

by VeloNation Press at 4:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Feels that Froome didn’t deliberately attack Wiggins during race

Mark Cavendish More details have emerged about Mark Cavendish’s lack of satisfaction during his time with Team Sky, with the Briton opening up about the isolation he felt during the 2012 Tour de France and also revealing a major clash of personalities with a senior member of the management team.

The fallout of one incident early on in that year’s Tour saw him fall out with Sean Yates, with neither speaking to the other after that point. Cavendish left the team at the end of the season, breaking a multi-year contract and going instead to Omega Pharma Quick Step.

In an extract from his new book At Speed printed in the Telegraph, he writes about that difficult Tour, saying that he found the Sky team to be completely focussed on the yellow jersey and lacking the same kind of spirit that he had found with his previous teams.

“The staff at Team Sky were there to execute their designated task and think of nothing else. It was efficient, it was professional, it put other teams to shame – but it also wasn’t a lot of fun,” he explained, painting a somewhat bleak picture.

“Our head directeur at the Tour was Sean Yates. One of only four British riders up to that point to have worn the yellow jersey at the Tour, Sean was revered as a legend of the sport in the UK.

“Before the Tour I had done only one race with Sean, the Tour of Romandy, and quickly got the sense that he didn’t particularly rate or admire me. I assumed that it wasn’t personal and that he was one of those former bike riders with preconceptions about sprinters, that they were lazy and prima donnas.

“I found him cold, uninspiring and miserly in praise. I didn’t count on getting much support from Sean at the Tour, but even these low expectations were dashed.”

Cavendish explained that he ran into problems on stage six of the race, skidding around a large crash and puncturing his rear wheel. He expected support, not least because it was a stage that he felt he could have won. He was disappointed.

“I reached for my radio and announced that I’d punctured. I heard nothing so I repeated what I’d just said, all the time trying to cling on to the back of the lead group while riding on a flat,” he stated.

“For a few hundred metres I was hanging in there, until the road began to descend and I could no longer stand the pace with no air in my tyre. Finally, having remained silent in the radio the whole time, Yates arrived in our first team car, waited while the mechanic swapped my wheel, then drove immediately off without even giving me a push.”

Cavendish felt abandoned by the incident, and appears never to have forgive Yates. It was a real turning point, and brought an end to any relationship they had.

“I had never been left stranded like that after a mechanical, not even as a 22-year-old neo-pro in a tiny one-day race in France. Here we were at the Tour de France, on a stage that I was the favourite to win, and I was the world champion. I was heartbroken,” he explained.

“It was July 6. This was the date when I realised this could be my first and last Tour de France with Team Sky. It was also the date of my last conversation with Sean Yates.”

Cavendish also wrote about the interactions between eventual race winner Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, who finished second in Paris yet showed signs that he could have been a lot closer had he been given his own chance.

Froome was criticised by Wiggins after the latter felt that he had threatened his race lead. Just as Cavendish and Yates fell out over the puncture incident, a moment later in the race damaged things between Wiggins and Froome.

Cavendish isn’t sure that things were as deliberate as Wiggins suggested.

“Chris had been selected for the Tour as Brad’s domestique de luxe in the mountains, yet had briefly accelerated away from his leader on the climb to La Toussuire, embarrassing and briefly isolating Brad, and also sparking debate about who should be leading Team Sky,” he explained.

“My own view from inside the team was that Chris had acted in good faith, just a little clumsily. If he’d wanted to betray Brad, he would have attacked on the penultimate climb that day, not the final one, and he wouldn’t have waited when he got the order to stop his effort over the radio.

“It was easy to see it as evidence of Chris’s naivety, which could make you either laugh or wince at times, both on and off the bike.”

Froome went on to win this year’s Tour de France, while Wiggins has faded as a Grand Tour contender.


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