Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) has attacked those doubting his form, citing misfortune and poor positioning in the finale preventing him from taking a 16th Tour de France stage victory. The Manxman's HTC team worked well together to bring back the break, but were left too few riders in the final five kilometres.
"The team did a great job for me today," explained Cavendish after the race. "We were just over run by Garmin [Cervelo] in the final few kilometres."
"From then I was poorly placed in the sprint and I was slightly caught between [Romain] Feillu and [Jose Joaquin] Rojas. I still thought I could win but Feillu was all over the road and I was afraid of falling - so I slowed down. After that there was no chance to come back. Considering the circumstances I'm happy with fifth, but I'm also really disappointed to have not won today.
"Of course I'm sure people will now say that I've lost my chance at the green jersey, or that I'm not as good [as last year]," said Cavendish. "Whoever writes me off [this early] is a fool."
Mark Renshaw, who has been Cavendish's lead-out man in every one of the Brit's Tours, also shouldered some of the blame for the day's non-performance.
"I'm making the calls. I'm in discussion with Cav. I made the call to get to the front around 25 kilometres to go. That may be the reason we got caught a little bit," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It was quite windy [out there], but I'm sure the teams have studied how we ride. It's no secret. They are catching up. Hopefully we can come back and win."
The day was made worse when race commisaires decided to relegate Cavendish as well as Garmin Cervelo's Thor Hushovd from their positions in the day's intermediate sprint in which Cavendish would've taken 10 points for sixth place. Despite the setbacks the Brit still sits in fifth place in the points classification and there is a long way to go till Paris.
"It is the last crown that he would love to get," Renshaw said of the green jersey. "We will keep trying. The green jersey is a big goal - for the team, for 'Cav', for myself, for everyone.