Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) reached the mountain finish of stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia above Bardonecchia escorted his loyal Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates. He was cold and tired after suffering in the terrible conditions but was fired up and angry after being forced to ride the final climb with his wheel touching his brake.
Cavendish apparently vented his anger as he climbed to the finish and then gave the race commissaires a piece of his mind.
"I can't remember feeling like that on a bike, I really, don't. I was completely empty," Cavendish confided to Cyclingnews after getting warm in the hotel to the top of the climb were each team had a room available for the riders to shower.
"It was a very difficult day. I had a couple of mechanicals and two commissaires stop whenever I have a problem. It was early on, near the feed zone but thing like that take their toll."
"Then when I was on the climb, with about five kilometres to go, I felt my wheel touching my brake. I couldn't stop at that point because the commissaires wouldn't have let me get back on. At that point I completely exploded."
Cavendish always praises his teammates for the work they do to help him in the sprints and was grateful for their loyal escort on the cold and on the climb. All the riders were tired after working so much on Friday's 254km stage but six teammates stayed with Cavendish.
"The guys waited for and then rode me up to the top. I'm incredibly lucky to have a team like that," Cavendish said.
"It's days like this are more important than perhaps even the sprint stages. They were incredible."
Taking each day at is comes
Despite finishing 22:31 down on stage winner Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) and suffering on the climb, Cavendish completed his responsibilities as leader of the points competition and completed the podium ceremony to pull on the red jersey.
He has a total of 109 points, 26 more than second placed Cadel Evans (BMC). He could become one of just a handful of riders to win the points jersey in all three Grand Tours but this year's mountainous route plays against him.
Cavendish refused to be drawn on if he will try to defend the red jersey all the way to Brescia. He has to be at his best for the Tour de France and so could leave the Giro d'Italia if he become ill or extremely tired.
"I'll take it as it comes," he said before heading to his hotel in Bardonecchia.
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