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INDICATORE, Italy (VN) — One day after singing its praise, Mark Cavendish was upset on Thursday with his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team. On the rain-soaked roads leading into the suburbs of Arezzo, Italy, his leadout train melted and left the door open for rival Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) to win.
“I’m quite disappointed in my leadout train, to be fair,” Cavendish said in a press conference. “I know they can be better than that.”
The Belgian squad powered like a speedboat from the Tuscan coast, through the hills and towards Indicatore. In its wake sat Cavendish in the blue leader’s jersey, his rivals waiting to pounce.
In the final circuits around Indicatore, though, something went wrong.
Tony Martin led Niki Terpstra and Cavendish’s final leadout man, Gert Steegmans, on the final 12.4km circuit. Some observers speculated that hesitation from the world time trial champion at the final roundabout appeared to have caused the whole team to lose its position.
Omega Pharma director Brain Holm told VeloNews that the roundabout just outside of 1km to go did upset the rhythm, but did not put blame on one of his men.
Cavendish explained that the roundabout had no impact on the team’s failure to deliver him.
“Before the last corner,” Cavendish added, “we were already 30 riders back.”
The Manxman kept the blue jersey thanks to the team’s dominant performance in the time trial 24 hours ago. The time bonuses he won at the intermediate sprints today also helped. The Brit now leads the race by two seconds over teammate Michal Kwiatkowski.
“I found a new motivation again. … When you are with a group of people like I’m with, I couldn’t ask for much more,” he said yesterday, just after donning that jersey.
The mood is different now.
“Tonight, we’ll just talk about my feelings and see what everyone thought,” Cavendish explained. “I know they can be better than that. … I’ll have to have some words tonight with them because I feel we could’ve done better.”
Cavendish’s mates could get another shot on Friday. Tomorrow’s run to Narni is the last chance for Cavendish to win a sprint in this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico. The 190km leg is not as flat, but perhaps the rain will let up and the Omega Pharma chat will pay off.
The team is more concerned, however, about getting everything dialed ahead of Milano-Sanremo next Sunday and the grand tours. The former will not require a standard leadout train, or any sort of train, but it will require that all of the machinery is well oiled.
After the classics, the team will begin tuning the train for the grand tours. In the Giro d’Italia, we should see a proper Omega Pharma leadout and the formation of Cavendish’s Tour de France train.
The Tour is still almost four months away, however. First, Cavendish focuses on Narni.
“It’s more difficult tomorrow than today,” Cavendish said. “It won’t be straightforward with the climbs in the final. I expect attacks, but we will try to stay together for a sprint.”