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"I went for the sprint again and I couldn't match the guys like yesterday. I'm disappointed after the team worked well. It's a little like last year when I came here and didn't win a stage because I had a training block...

Photo: Sirotti






15.06.2013 @ 14:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For the second day in a row, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) had to settle for 3rd in a bunch sprint in the Ster ZLM Toer and this time he was defeated by his two arch rivals, Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol). The Manxman was disappointed to once again come away empty-handed but wrote his lack of results down to a recent hard block of training.


As it was the case last year, the Ster ZLM Toer has been a hugely anticipated race as the three fastest sprinters in the world Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish once again have chosen the Dutch race as their final preparation for the Tour de France. Supported by their entire lead-out trains, the sprinters test themselves in a dress rehearsal for this year's Tour de France.


On Thurday, the trio were upset by Theo Bos (Blanco) who took a surprise win ahead of Greipel and Cavendish while Kittel had to settle for 5th. Yesterday they once again went head to head, filling the podium with Kittel at the top, Greipel in 2nd and Cavendish in 3rd.


Hence, the Manxman has so far been the least successful of the sprinters and as usual, he was not at all happy about another defeat.


"It wasn't an easy day today," he said. "We tried to stay at the front. Blanco was going to control it because they had the jersey. But we put one guy up there — Frantisek Rabon. He rode really well the whole day with the front guys to keep the strong group of eight close, and then to reel it in for a sprint finish. There was a good flat part in the last 40km so we knew it was going to be a sprint in a technical finishing circuit. So we tried to stay at the front. The team did really well. We all stayed together but Argos-Shimano had it strong at the end. I went for the sprint again and I couldn't match the guys like yesterday. I'm disappointed after the team worked well."


The situation is, however, not unusual for Cavendish. Last year he left the stage  without a stage win while Kittel bagged two and Greipel one. While he did not sprint at his usual level, he benefited from a recent block of hard training to climb surprisingly well, finishing second behind Lars Boom in the queen stage in the Ardennes and thus winning his first ever stage race.


This year he has once again finished a hard block of training prior to the race and so he is not overly worried by the lack of results, choosing to keep focus on his main objective.


"It's a little like last year when I came here and didn't win a stage because I had a training block," he said. "We're not too worried. It'd be nice to win but we've still got two more days and then we've got the Tour de France in two weeks."


Cavendish will test his climbing legs in today's queen stage which is almost identical to last year's. Currently, he is 5th overall, 16 seconds behind Kittel who leads the race, and so it is not completely impossible for him to repeat last year's win.



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