Young British rider Chris Latham (WIGGINS) mixed it with the big-name sprinters at the Abu Dhabi Tour on the opening day, finishing fifth after making a late charge for the finish line from behind Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).
Cavendish was slightly irritated that Team Wiggins had refused to help chase the breakaway during the stage but then placed riders at the head of the peloton in the high-speed finale.
"We said it'd do the Wiggins team good to ride and get organised. But they said they weren't strong enough. But then they were up there with six guys in the finale…" Cavendish said with a dose of sarcasm, followed by some admiration for Latham when asked about the 22 year-old Briton's sprint performance.
"He got in the way… Though he's a mate of mine and lived with me throughout the winter. He's a strong guy but he's not going to win a pro race just yet. I don't mean that in a bad way, he's good."
Latham was curious to hear what Cavendish had said about to him when interviewed by Cyclingnews.
"I'll take that. Usually he's ripping me," he said after being told. "It's always like that but to be honest it's part of us riding a big race like this. We're a Continental team, they're WorldTour, so they should do the work so we've got a chance to win."
Latham described the hectic final kilometre as "carnage" but was understandingly happy with his performance.
"It was carnage. I got on Cav's wheel with about 700 metres to go and thought it was perfect. I followed him through the other riders and then got ready to go for it. But then I couldn't get through. I saw a gap with 20 metres to go and so went for it. I was rushing up on them but we hit the line. I just needed another 20 metre but I suppose that's something they all say."
"My form's pretty good at the moment even if I was a little disappointed at the World Championships (where he finished 35th in the under 23 men's road race). I wanted to get up there and maybe even get on the podium. But this helped make up for it. There were a lot better riders here, so I showed what I can do."
Latham had been expecting to line-up alongside team leader Bradley Wiggins at the Abu Dhabi Tour but the former Tour de France winner and more recent gold medal winner on the track at the Rio Olympics pulled out just before the race. He refuted it was due to the on-going investigation into his UCI approved TUE certificates to use powerful injections of the corticoid triamcinolone acetate.
"It's not going to affect me, it's nothing really, it's not really a story," Latham claimed dismissively. "I don't even know what's going on, so I'm not that bothered. It doesn't affect me. I'm pretty sure everything is fine."
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