Mark Cavendish's upward trajectory in his second career stint with the Deceuninck-QuickStep squad came to a halt in his debut appearance at Nokere Koerse, where he was firmly positioned near the front of the peloton until an “amateur mistake” took away any hopes of claiming his first win of the season.
Looking at a replay of his fall on the cobbles at Nokere Koerse in an interview with Sporza, he reacted with “I love it. Honestly, that was a full-on race today.”
Cavendish told Sporza after the race, “I love cobblestones,” but this time the cobbles did not return the soft feeling. After no complications across close to 20 cobbled sections, the Huisepontweg section with six kilometres to go saw him go down. After waiting for a bike change, he rode alongside teammate Stijn Steels to finish in 84th place, 5:50 behind winner Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Casino-Wallonie Bruxelles).
“It was my own fault. I just caught the lip of the cobblestones and I went down. It’s just something that happens. Which is just an amateur mistake. If someone else did it, you just laugh at them, really,” Cavendish said, noting that while it was his first time in the semi-Classic, he had ridden the Nokereberg in other races and had trained on it.
This was the fourth race of the year for the Manxman, who finished second in the Grote prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré two weeks ago. It was the first podium for the 35-year-old since a third place on stage 3 of the Tour of Turkey in April 2019.
“It’s been a while since I’ve won. I think it’s still kind of headlined if I don’t win, which is a bit absurd to be honest because 95 per cent of the peloton do not win a race in their life. I take it as a compliment.” Cavendish said.
He took to Instagram to talk about racing in Belgium, and enjoying one-day races and “pure, start to finish bike racing.” He’ll lead his team Friday at Bredene Koksijde.
“Back to Belgium this week. Love it so much. Just racing. No staring at how many watts you need to hold. No working out an order of which team sits behind which in the peloton. No real prediction of how the race will unfold,” he wrote.
His proficiency in winning is responsible for many headlines, notably 30 stage wins at the Tour de France. Much of that success, measured by stage and race victories, was between 2013 and 2015 while racing for QuickStep the first time, including six podiums at the Tour in 2013. The move back to the Belgian team comes after an unproductive year with Bahrain-McLaren, that saw him miss out on a Tour de France selection for the second year running, and rumours of retirement.
Cavendish has a one-year contract with Deceuninck-QuickStep, making it his 15th season at the WorldTour level. At the team presentation to start the year, he did not reveal specific contract terms, but said the 'wolfpack' was the only team in which he was interested to race.
"I don't think there’s anything to prove. I've pretty much won everything,” he told Sporza. “Who’s fucking business is it if I stop except on my own? It’s mine and my family’s choice how long I do this. I don’t have to prove anything.”
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