Cavendish: ‘It’s as simple as one wheel’

World champ shrugs off classics disappointment

World champion Mark Cavendish met difficulty again on Sunday, losing contact with the peloton 35km from the finish of Ghent-Wevelgem. Cavendish (Sky) said afterward he felt good and was positioned well when the rider in front of him lost contact with the group.

“I was isolated before the Monteberg,” said Cavendish after the finish. “It’s as simple as one wheel; someone loses the wheel in front of you, and you’re gapped.”

A week after his disappointing withdrawal from Milan-San Remo, Cavendish held fast in the group of favorites over both climbs of the Kemmelberg, but was dislodged on the second descent. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Matti Breschel (Rabobank) pressured the group over the top of the climb and that acceleration caused the split near the front of the peloton.

Cavendish rode to the finish in a group of 40-plus riders, down 2:31, after a hard chase by his Sky teammates could not erase what quickly became a 20-plus-second disadvantage. He met the press at the team bus, which is uncommon for the Manxman after a disappointing result. When asked about whether luck played a role in the events of the day, Cavendish said he was positioned in the first 25 riders, but even that was too far from the front with the new parcours.

“When we turned left on the descent of the Kemmelberg, it was one line, spread out,” he said. “It wasn’t that hard, I just lost the wheel, I had my head down, and by the time you look up, it’s too hard to get across. Usually if you are in the top 25 off the Kemmelberg, you’re all right. I guess next time I’ll have to be in the top 10.”