Holm: They kicked us in the balls
Mark Cavendish rode straight to the Omega Pharma-Quick Step bus after finishing fourth in the high-speed hectic stage 6 sprint into Montpellier at the Tour de France on Thursday.
He was understandably angry after a series of events forced him to start his sprint from too far back, leaving him with no chance to beat André Greipel, who got a perfect lead-out from his Lotto Belisol teammates in the final kilometre.
Cavendish also crashed in the finale of the stage, chased alone to get back on and then was forced to look after himself in the sprint after his teammates were unable to match the speed of Argos-Shimano and Lotto Belisol. Cavendish tried to move up in sight of the finish line but could only take the long line around the last curve and eased up when he realised he could not beat Greipel.
He vented his anger on the Omega Pharma-Quick Step bus, shouting loudly to let out his disappointment about the sprint and the pain of his crash.
“I came out of a roundabout, it was tight coming out and my front wheel went from under me and I ended up on the ground,” he told French television later.
"I think there were a lot of factors — for sure the crash didn't help. It took a lot of energy to get back. I can't say for sure though, you know, Andre was really strong today and he deserved the win. I'm disappointed, but you know we won the stage yesterday, and the morale is still good. We rode strong all day in difficult conditions, so it's OK. We've got another two weeks left."
Cavendish also shared his emotions via Twitter saying: "So so hot today! But no Manx sunburn.. Road-burn? Yup. Hit the deck. Leg-burn? Yup. Got beat in the sprint. Nice one @AndreGreipel."
Brian Holm gave a more detailed explanation about what went wrong in the sprint. The experienced Danish directeur sportif is never one to make excuses or try to put a positive spin on things when a race doesn’t go right. He says it as it is.
"We have to admit that they kicked us in the balls. We got our lesson today. Lotto was perfect today, they did everything right. We ran out of gasoline," Holm told a few journalists in the shadow of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team bus.
"We knew that in this sprint, you had to stay on the right. Cav tried to move up from fourth position but that's bollocks. You had to do it from the inside, start from the inside with a perfect lead-out."
Let him calm down
Holm wisely did not go on the team bus to speak to Cavendish. He knows it’s better to give him time to cool down, reflect on his race and then analyse what went wrong and how to resolve any problems.
"I usually wait for a few hours before speaking to him. At massage I always see him, we talk about it and we end up laughing about it," he said.
Holm knows Cavendish better than most people in the sport. He allows him to be angry for a few hours but expects him to apologise and move on to the next objective.
"He's like a boxer coming out of the ring after a fight. He's got adrenaline going around in his body and so I wouldn't judge anybody two hours after a race, especially when you're beaten like that."
"I think it's alright to be angry, be an angry young man but just for two hours. Then we have to be a happy family again. He'll be happy at dinner and will go around saying sorry. He's a good lad."
Insight into a chaotic day
Holm also gave some insight into what happened when Cavendish crashed, why his teammates didn't wait for him and about the sprint. He revealed that the team's radios were not working. That is why no Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders dropped back to help Cavendish get back on after his crash.
"I just heard via the race radio that an Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider was down. We didn’t have a clue who was down," Holm explained.
"We went round a roundabout and we found Cav lying on the left. We had to change his bike and then we came back (up) with him. There were three, four or five riders down."
"We had a problem with the radio today, somebody had a sticky button and so it was just noise. Bramati stayed behind him because we had to change the bike again. Everything was a little chaotic today.
"It looked like Greipel had good legs today. We blew it and Lotto did everything right. Cav got a good win (on Wednesday), Lotto got a good win today and so I think we have to say congratulations to them."
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