ZEELAND, Netherlands, (Reuters) - Etixx-Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere hit out at his sprint ace Mark Cavendish after the Briton’s decision not to hang on in the final meters of the second stage of the Tour de France cost the team the coveted yellow jersey on Sunday.
Sensing that he would not win the stage, a 166-km ride from Utrecht, Cavendish eased up before the line and in so doing allowed Fabian Cancellara to claim third place and the four seconds of time bonus that go with it.
Had Cavendish finished third or higher, Cancellara would not have won the time bonus and Etixx-Quick Step rider Tony Martin, who was one second ahead of the Swiss after Saturday’s opening time trial, would have ended up as the overall leader.
“I am not happy at all. Probably this was our last chance to take the yellow jersey,” Lefevere said.
“Cavendish stopped sprinting and this costs Tony the jersey." Cavendish, who has won 25 Tour stages in his career, had a different point of view.
Posting a picture of the finale on his Twitter feed, the Manxman wrote: “Look at this photo. If I could hang on for 3rd, I could hang on for the win... Some imbeciles think cycling is a computer game. Problem is, social media & TV are platforms for them to be heard.”
Cavendish abandoned last year’s Tour after crashing in the first stage.
He also criticized his team mate Mark Renshaw for leading him out too early.
"I think Mark went too early and kind of left me hanging. We died," Cavendish told reporters.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Douglas Beattie