HTC-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish lost out twice today on the Tour de France’s stage to Redon. He was disqualified from the intermediate sprint and blocked in the final metres to the finish.
“I tried to [follow team] Garmin, fighting with [José] Rojas, but the Kamikaze, [Romain] Feillu came flying in in the last corner, I got tangled and thought I was going to crash,” Cavendish explained to the press at the team bus.
“I went full gas and gained back those metres. I gained points and showed my form.”
Team Garmin-Cervélo’s sprinter, Tyler Farrar won and Cavendish took fifth on day three, the Tour’s first sprint stage. Farrar gained 45 points for first place, Cavendish took 22 points for fifth.
Cavendish also placed sixth, first behind a five-man escape at the intermediate sprint 104 kilometres into the 198-kilometre stage. The race jury, though, disqualified him and race leader, Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) for leaning on each other leading to the line in Saint-Hilaire-de-Chaléons.
The official race jury press release referred to irregular sprinting, article 12.1.040.10.2.2. Cavendish heard about the decision after the HTC bus pulled away from the dusty parking lot and the international journalists.
“Just discovered Thor and I have been disqualified from the intermediate sprint today,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “Seriously, no idea why?!”
HTC-Highroad’s sports director, Valerio Piva explained that the team’s strategy was to sprint for the valuable points on offer mid-way through the stage. Cavendish skipped them in past Tours, but this year’s rule change forced a new approach.
“If you have those points available, why not? You never know what will happen in the next days,” Piva told Cycling Weekly. “You don’t win the green jersey with those places, but you can lose it if you let the points go day after day.”
He added that Cavendish’s first objective is to win the stage.
“We may need to re-think our train and follow the others,” Piva continued. “Of course, everyone knows we are strong and they try to disorganise us.”
HTC’s Bernhard Eisel, Tony Martin, Matt Goss and then Mark Renshaw led Cavendish into Redon.
“The form is there and the team is strong,” Cavendish said. “I felt good. You could see how I pulled them back in the last 500 metres. I couldn’t win it, but I managed to keep in contention for the green jersey.”
Without the jury’s post-stage decision, would have had 10 extra points. He’ll have to continue his focus on intermediate sprints and stage wins to put himself back into contention for the green jersey.
“None of us did anything wrong, they shouldn’t look into this,” Hushovd told Norwegian press after meeting with the jury.
Hushovd felt bad they were taking valuable green jersey points from Cavendish.
“I even offered to take all the blame and punishment.”
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index