Cavendish reflects on a disappointing Milan-Sanremo
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cavendish reflects on a disappointing Milan-Sanremo

by Jered Gruber at 3:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Milan-Sanremo

Mark Cavendish was not able to repeat his dazzling performance of 2009 this afternoon in Sanremo, but he did show himself better than most had anticipated. After a dismal first few months of the season beset by health problems and a late start, he swooped into Milano after placing an eyebrow raising dead last at Tirreno-Adriatico. Opinions were mixed about Cavendish's chances heading into La Primavera, but his team stuck behind him, as did the bookies, putting him at 10-1 odds: only behind Tom Boonen and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

At the end of the day, a repeat victory was not in the cards, nor was it even close, but the story behind it is well worth reading. Cavendish had no illusions about his day and confessed immediately:

"It was hard. It was hard for me, not good for me or my team. There were a few problems. At the bottom of the Turchino, I don't know if you saw, but my spokes ripped out. I had to get a wheel. I chased up the Turchino. I got back to the field at the top of the Turchino. I was actually climbing well there. There was a crash in the tunnel at the top of the Turchino, so I started the descent at the back.  I went through the groups. I can descend well, you know? I went through, through, through to the second group, but the front group had gone."

Cavendish is referring to the already infamous tunnel crossing at the top of the Turchino, which organizers somehow neglected to make sure was lit. Carnage ensued with a large portion of the field caught up in the wreck or behind it. After taking stock at the base of the Turchino, Cavendish made the call to ride.

"That's when I made the decision, I said, I don't feel too bad, we'll chase. My team chased, my team chased, my team chased. We kept the gap down, we knew it would come back on La Manie."

The climb of La Manie caused a selection this year, unlike in 2009, but Cavendish was solid, though once again, his 2010 bad luck was still firmly planted in his draft, following patiently, biding its time.

"I rode La Manie well. I had my team around me. We started the descent, and I crashed. So I got back on, but we had to chase again at the bottom of La Manie. I was ok, but on the Cipressa, it was just that one part, the hardest part, I lacked what I had last year, I knew I would. I wanted to give it a go anyway. Obviously, you know, I think I did better than they imagined actually. My team did an incredible job."

Cavendish was not bitter in his recollection of the race. It was more of a matter of fact, shrug of the shoulders - what can you do? As for today's winner, newly crowned three-time champion at Milan-Sanremo, Oscar Freire?

"I'm happy for Oscar, you know, after he couldn't ride here last year, it's cool that he won this year."

When asked about his almost startlingly bad start to 2010, Cavendish was straightforward:

"I haven't had such a good season. It has been marred by bad luck, but hopefully it will come around. I've got support of the people around me: my team, my family, you know, they're all so important. Hopefully we'll get some better times."

As the interviewer let him go, he asked if Cavendish will return next year to win. The reply was telling to say the least:

"Hopefully in the World Championship jersey."



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