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"I'm disappointed obviously, but you can take the positives that Etixx - Quick-Step rode strong today. They forced the split and rode to the end selflessly."

Photo: Sirotti










05.07.2015 @ 21:04 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish finished 4th in the 166km Tour de France Stage 2, along the seacost from Utrecht to Zeeland on Sunday, as the peloton split in the Dutch crosswinds with less than 60km to go and never came back together.


Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the stage. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was 2nd, and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) finished 3rd in the sprint out of the group. 


Michal Kwiatkowski won the most aggressive rider award as a result of his hard work on the front of the lead group.


An original breakaway was caught with 62.5km to go in the stage by a fast paced peloton that came back together after splitting earlier in the race. But that was not the end of the big actions. Etixx - Quick-Step, among other teams, came to the front and split the peloton with less than 60km remaining. Only 26 riders remained ahead and many key riders, such as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team), were forced to try and chase to minimize time losses. Six Etixx - Quick-Step riders were in the front group.


However, the gap only grew and the yellow jersey group finished 1'28" behind the leaders. 


Tony Martin now trails Cancellara by 3" in the overall classification. Rigoberto Uran is now 7th GC, 42" down. 


Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to Stage 3 on Monday. Stage 3, 159.9km in total distance, from Anvers to Huy with a finish on Category 3 Mur de Huy. The Mur de Huy is 1.3km at 9.6% average gradient, but there is a ramp on this finale that reaches 19 percent gradient.


"I think Mark Renshaw went a little too early and it left me hanging a bit," Cavendish said. "It seemed to be a cross/headwind when we came in, and that's why I held the barrier. It's kind of hard to feel it unless you're in the wind, and we don't want to really be doing it until about the last kilometer. If it had been a cross/tailwind, we would have been OK.


"Maybe I could have waited, let them jump, and then jumped on their wheels, but it's a risky move. With a headwind finish I didn't want to go with more than 200 meters to go. I knew it was a gamble to go so long, but I just went and with good luck I stay ahead. But with three strong guys like Greipel, Sagan, and Cancellara, it's not so easy. I gave them a leadout in this case.


"I'm disappointed obviously, but you can take the positives that Etixx - Quick-Step rode strong today. They forced the split and rode to the end selflessly. Tony Martin rode in the green jersey. I'm disappointed we couldn't get it, but it's the Tour de France and Andre Greipel deserved the win today.


"Now we look to tomorrow. It's a finish that can suit guys like Michal and Rigo. We've got a team that can be in the actions of a lot of stages in this first week. For me personally, the day of the cobblestones might be a chance, but the stages after are more likely to be a bunch sprint. We will see what can happen as we have nine strong riders who can try to make something happen, as we did today."


"The work we did as a team was incredible today, especially Kwiatkowski and Zdenek Stybar," Martin said. "Everyone did a great job to possibly put me in Yellow and I am really thankful for that. I thought with five kilometers to go there were so many sprinters in the group that it would be hard for Cancellara to get top three for the seconds he needed. But, he raced smart today. Congratulations to him for becoming race leader. As for me, I was happy to work today but I also did not go too hard and saved my legs a bit. Now we will see what can happen in the next days."


"The team effort was amazing," Kwiatkowski said. "We all gave our hearts to deliver the stage for Mark and even yellow for Tony. But Greipel and Cancellara were strong, especially in the final, so congratulations to them.


"Today I've kept pushing to make a big gap. As a team we're really strong. Of course we knew Mark Cavendish could win such a stage. We all went for him. It looks like he paid the price for having spent too much energy and they [the sprinters] possibly went too early. We don't have the yellow jersey and we don't have the stage win today but I'm still happy with the team's effort.


"It's a disappointment of course, but the race is not over. We still have 19 stages to go. We still have a lot of things to achieve. This team is always motivated. We didn't get the win today, but we always put the day behind us immediately and are focused on tomorrow. We will keep on trying.


"Of course tomorrow we have the Mur de Huy stage, and then the cobblestone stage. We are a team who loves the Classics style races. We will try our chances in these next days and we will also be focused on the team time trial at the end of the first week. As for the Most Aggressive Rider award today, the prize belongs to the whole team and I wish I could share it with them."



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