Mark Cavendish says that he only has himself to blame for missing out on the rainbow jersey at the World Championships. Cavendish took silver behind defending champion Peter Sagan but felt that he had the pace to take gold.
Cavendish had been in Sagan's wheel coming into the final stretch. In the end, he found himself boxed in when the Slovakian wound up his sprint. He was forced to negotiate his way around Michael Matthews before he was able to attack the line. He told the press after the race that it was an error in judgement rather than his speed that lost him the opportunity for the victory.
"I wanted to be on Sagan's wheel, and ultimately I was and then all of a sudden the road was blocked," Cavendish said after picking up his silver medal.
"We talked about [Blythe] going at that point, but with the wind it didn't quite go. It just created a bit more of a barrier in front. He did what he was asked. I made the call, and at the end of the day, it was the wrong call to make.
"I tried to find a way through, but I had to stop then go around Matthews, but by then it was too late. I got back on Tom Boonen, but it was too late to get on Sagan. I'm a little bit disappointed. I feel like I lost gold rather than I won silver. That's how it is, you know."
Cavendish and Blythe were the only two members of the British squad to make it into the 26-rider group that arrived at the Pearl. The crucial split happened when the race turned back towards Doha, as the Belgians and the British drove hard in the crosswinds. Cavendish, Blythe and Luke Rowe held on as the gap grew but Rowe's day was done when a puncture dropped him back to the second group.
"I was second into that corner where it split behind Luke Rowe. He made it in but then, unfortunately, he punctured while we were in the front echelon so it was just myself and Adam," explained Cavendish.
"Of all nine of us, we knew that Adam would be the one that was going to be up front. He's an incredible rider in the wind, and he finds his own little way into things. He was superb, and he looked after me really well today so I didn't have to get into any dangerous situations."
Cavendish set out some ambitious targets this season with the Track World Championships, the Tour de France, the track at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. He left the track Worlds with gold in the Madison and claimed four stage victories at the Tour de France in July. He had a quick turnaround for Rio, where he took silver in the omnium, and had two months to find his road speed for the Road Worlds.
"It wasn't easy, but it was doable. I was straight back training again doing my job," said Cavendish. "I have a job to do. With Team Dimension Data I've been riding on the road anyway so that's what I've got to do. The hardest part was being sick a few weeks ago. I really lost a lot of form there. I was surprised with how good I felt during the race. In my head, I had these goals and when I have goals, it's easy to focus."