Milan-San Remo is always a lottery but the Etixx-QuickStep team came away empty-handed. Michal Kwiatkowski and Zdenek Stybar crashed on the descent of the Poggio and Cavendish was dropped on the Poggio, finishing 46th in a chase group at 23 seconds behind the winner John Degenkolb.
Cavendish revealed he dropped his chain on the climb of the Cipressa just as he did in the sprint in Cascina during Tirreno-Adriatico, and was forced to spend precious energy to hold the gap and then fight on in the hope of the race coming back together.
“I didn't feel good at all, but the team put me in good position through all the climbs, I just fought and fought, just to have a chance but then with a kilometre and a half to go on the Cipressa, the same thing as at Tirreno happened: my chain came off,” he said.
“It was on the flat bit of the Cipressa, you shouldn't ever be dropped on the Cipressa but my chain came off on the outside like in Tirreno, like it happened to Tom (Boonen) and a few guys this year.”
Despite not being at his best due to he stomach virus he picked up during a sponsor trip to South Africa, Cavendish fought to hold and close the gap on the Cipressa. But his effort cost him dearly, especially on the Poggio, where he was eventually left behind.
“I wasn't able to close the gap before the top of the Cipressa, so I sat there doing 650-700 watts for five kilometres, just to keep a twenty-metre gap. I got back on the descent, but it just cooked me. I was on my limit after that. You can't afford that on the top of Cipressa when you are a sprinter. It just cooked me. I wasn't able to keep moving up,” he explained.
“It wasn't that I was getting dropped, but you need to keep moving up and keep fighting for position, and I just didn't have the energy to keep doing it, to keep doing those little accelerations on the Poggio, so every corner I was losing a couple of positions. It just put me too far back.”
Cavendish saw his teammates stopped on the side of the road after they crashed on the Poggio and suddenly knew Etixx-Quickstep’s chances of victory were over. He sportingly praised John Degenkolb on his victory in the Via Roma.
“It just kind of went to shit a bit at the end,” he said. “Both the lads are all right, but it wasn't nice. I spotted them out of the corner of my eye when I was coming back on the Poggio. At least everyone is safe and well,” he said.
“Degenkolb has been battling and close for a while, it's nice that he has a win here.”
Cavendish will be hoping for more fortune next weekend, when he heads to Belgium for Gent-Wevelgem.
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