The four-day event raced over the finishing circuit that will be used for the Worlds later this year on stage 2, with Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin) coming out on top. Cavendish finished 18th on the stage and admitted later that he ‘bottled it’ in the finale. However, this was also an opportunity for the 33-year-old to test his legs on the 16.5km course that will be used multiple times in the men’s elite race come September.
“That circuit is hard, I did it in the winter and thought it’s not for me but thought maybe here at Tour de Yorkshire at race pace maybe it would be easier. It wasn’t, it’s still hard at race pace. If anything, it was harder,” Cavendish told Cyclingnews at the finish of stage 2 in Bedale.
“That’s a hard circuit, it’s probably too hard for me to be fair. I was hoping Yorkshire would change my thoughts and it hasn’t.”
Cavendish is still searching for his first win in over a year. He placed third in a sprint in the Tour of Turkey last month and Yorkshire was his next outing before the Tour of California and the Tour de France in July. He is still rebuilding his form and fitness after Epstein Barr Virus ruined almost two years of his career. Cavendish is searching for confidence as well as form. At the finish in Bedale, the 33-year-old was open about vicious cycle he has now entered with each passing sprint.
“I felt good today, obviously it would be good to put that into a result but… the more I don’t sprint the harder it is to get that instinct back, then the longer I don’t get the instinct back the less you sprint, it kind of goes like that.”
At the very least Cavendish had the chance to lead the race through Harrogate. His mother hails from the town in the north of England and his family was out to watch him on home roads for the first time since last year.
“It’s was a hard day out there. Going through Harrogate was mint. My brother was there but I didn’t see anyone. Maybe my grandma was out but I couldn’t see her.”
For a complete and expert analysis of Mark Cavendish’s sprint on stage 2 read Philippa’s York’s story.