MILAN (VN) — Mark Cavendish (Sky) rode like a world champion through this year’s Giro d’Italia, including his final-day time trial push to try to punch into the top 15 and earn points.
Cavendish gave everything, but could only muster 55th, well beyond the points, meaning he lost the points jersey to Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) by one point.
“I knew it wasn’t really a possibility for a top 15, but I might as well give it a try,” Cavendish said about his TT. “It’s disappointing, because we feel like we’ve done everything right for this jersey, but things were out of our control.”
Cavendish won three stages, but crashed twice in the first week, two incidents that cost him a chance to win the points jersey. On Saturday, Rodríguez crossed the line fourth atop the Passo dello Stelvio, earning just enough points to take the jersey, 139-138.
Unlike many sprinters, Cavendish stayed in the Giro all the way to Milan, in part to honor the rainbow and to chase the points jersey to go along with those he’s won in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.
“They say what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, but I think this Giro has pretty much killed me. I am dead. I am on my hands and knees,” Cavendish said. “The Giro is the hardest grand tour in the world. The Tour is different; it’s the racing that makes it hard. Here the mountains are diabolical. It kills you.”
Cavendish also defended himself against accusations that he takes pulls off team cars up the longer climbs. Four riders were kicked out of Saturday’s stage for taking pulls, but Cavendish pushed through each day to finish in the gruppetto to arrive at the finish line.
“Contrary to popular belief, I am one of the only riders who do not take pulls or get pushed,” he said. “The commissaires do everything they can to make things harder for us. They make barrages when it’s not necessary. I am spent, but I have enjoyed it. I love this race, I love this country.”
Cavendish said he will come back to the Giro someday to win the points jersey, but admitted he was disappointed to lose it by the narrowest of margins.
“Well, that’s life on the bike,” Cavendish said. “In a way, I am happy for Rodríguez, because it was tough for him to lose the pink jersey on the last day. At least he can stand on the podium with the red jersey.”