Tour de France: Cavendish struggles through the Pyrenees

Data Dimension rider suffers in the heat, races time cut

The first big mountain stage of the 2016 Tour de France was a far cry from the first week success that Mark Cavendish enjoyed as the 'manx missile' spent the majority of the 184km stage from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon out the back with Dimension Data teammate Bernie Eisel.

Cavendish and Eisel were the last two riders to finish in the 55-rider grupetto, 39:24 minutes down on stage winner Chris Froome.

"It was hot, I hate it in the Pyrenees," said Cavendish after collecting the green points jersey for another day.

"It's just too hot for me, I'm from the Isle of Man. I have white skin and that, I can't deal with this heat.

"Especially this year as I haven't really been training in Italy, I've been training on the track so I haven't seen the sun. I just want to go and sit down.."

The fast start in which the peloton covered 51km in the first hour meant the majority of riders were already on the limit before they reached the Hors catégorie Col du Tourmalet climb. Cavendish is battling world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) for the green jersey, and with the day's intermediate sprint placed at the base of the climbs, he explained the frantic start to the stage.

"I didn't think I'd suffer as much as I did today: I followed Peter Sagan around. He was trying to get in the breaks for the points for the green jersey. I was actually cooked by the time we got to the [Tourmalet] climb, I wasn't that good," he said.

Cavendish and Eisel then spent the remainder of the stage largely by themselves, over 30 minutes behind the front of the race as they rode over and down the Hourquette d'Ancizan and Col de Val Louron-Azet, calculating each and every effort to ensure they arrived within the time cut.

"To be fair, we know what watts per kilo we should ride to make it. We have a great scientist in the team who works out for us what we need to do on each climb and the descents," he added. "I had a puncture on the last climb, and you lose a minute when you are dealing in minute increments in the end. It's quite tight how we planned the time cuts."

The duo will find themselves in a similar scenario for stage 9 with the peloton to tackle four categorised climbs before the HC summit finish at Andorra-Arcalis to conclude the 184.5km stage.

 

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