Etixx-Quickstep pulls Cavendish from cold, rainy Tirreno-Adriatico

Entire sprint team drops out ahead of time trial

With Mark Cavendish looking unlikely to win another stage in Tirreno-Adriatico, directeur sportif Brian Holm took the decision to simply throw in the towel and pull Cavendish and his entire lead-out train from the race.

Cavendish was part of a large group of riders dropped by the furious pace of the Tinkoff-Saxo team, who eventually won the stage with Peter Sagan, on the climb of the Montelparo, 72km from the finish. Etixx-Quickstep waited for him, but the team decided to cut its losses ahead of Milan-San Remo this weekend.

"I saw straight from the start that Mark wasn't good today," Holm said. "He didn't feel well and he lost contact quite early when the bunch wasn't really going fast. We asked Sabatini, Terpstra, Renshaw, and Stybar to wait for him to eventually try to close the gap if he should get better during the stage, but it didn't happen. At that point it was a wise decision to stop racing instead of doing 2 laps in the final local circuit under the rain."

Riders in the gruppetto on Sunday's mountain finish had to make their way through a heavy snowfall to get to the finish line, and the weather did not improve for today's 210 trek from Rieti to Porto Sant'Elpidio. With a driving rain and temperatures barely above freezing, Cavendish was one of 20 riders who either failed to start or did not finish the stage.

"Milano-Sanremo is in a few days, so we didn't want to take the risk to have any sick riders before a big appointment, which is this upcoming Sunday."

Rigoberto Uran remains in third place overall behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Bauke Mollema (Trek), but now only has two riders: Julien Vermote and Gianluca Brambilla in the race with him for the final stage, a 10km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.

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