Despite losing the sprint, Cavendish praised his current HTC-Highroad teammates after they helped him stay in contact on the final climb of the stage. Cavendish needed time to calm down and reflect on the sprint but then admitted he made a mistake by starting his sprint early, giving Greipel a super fast lead out.
"I’m disappointed. I feel I made a mistake but Greipel beat me, so there's no excuse I can say about that,” he said holding court on the steps of his team bus soon after the finish.
"I went early but it wasn't too early on this type of finish. But I didn't commit enough. I kicked with 170 meters to go but Greipel came fast and beat me. I'm happy for him. He's come here to the Tour de France and won.”
Chasing all day
The HTC-Highroad team helped Europcar chase the breakaway for most of the 158km stage and then also used up other horsepower on the final climb. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) blew the peloton apart with his attacks on the climb but HTC-Highroad rode intelligently. Tony Martin jumped across to the break to disrupt the attack and Cavendish explained how the team judged its effort on the climb and high-speed downhill pursuit.
“We were there, you know,” he said. “I had Bernie (Eisel) to keep the pace which was perfect on the climb. The peloton was fragmented but Bernie took me to 1200m from the top and then I used the other guys I passed to get back on.”
“It was uncomfortable but I was never really about to get dropped. We had Tony Martin in the break, so we didn’t have to chase that back, and I had the guys around me to look after me till one kilometre to go.
"The guys were incredible. There was Tejay (Van Garderen) and Tony. There was an attack by David Millar and he’s always dangerous but Tony had it under control. They did everything to keep me at the front until the last kilometre and that was important. Then I stayed third wheel until the sprint.”