Losers are bitter, moans Tour de France sprint king Mark Cavendish
Briton says resentment runs high and riders taking unnecessary risks
Losers are taking unnecessary risks because they’re bitter towards the winners, sprint star Mark Cavendish has claimed.
The Manx Missile won his 28th stage at the Tour de France on Monday, claiming victory by a whisker from German Andre Greipel.
It put him second on the all-time stage win list alongside French great Bernard Hinault, and only behind Belgian legend Eddy Merckx, out in front alone on 34 success.
But after discussing how sprint finishes were getting increasingly dangerous, the 31-year-old Brit pointed the finger at those who can’t win.
“The difference between guys who win and those who lose is that the guys who win understand it,” said the Team Dimension Data sprinter.
“They have respect for each other and are the first to congratulate them (for winning). But the guys who never win anything – a lot of guys who don’t win feel bitterness to the guys who win.
“Instead of appreciating it, they resent it and kind of take their frustrations out in that way (by taking risks).”
Safety has been an important watchword in the Tour this year with overall race leader Peter Sagan also hitting out at what he described as riders who “don’t care about their life” and cause “stupid crashes”.
The safety row went some way to detracting from Cavendish’s own fine achievements, having won two of the first three Tour stages this year.
Although his flow of victories has slowed in recent years, he remains one of the best sprinters in the world and he says he’s enjoying his cycling more than ever.
He won 23 stages from 2008-2012 with HTC Highroad and then Sky, but he says he prefers the more laid-back atmosphere at African team Dimension Data.
“I’m very fortunate in my career to have ridden for probably the biggest teams in cycling,” said Cavendish.
“They were successful years, I had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends. I had a great time but obviously with the biggest teams and biggest funds comes great pressure.
“I’m lucky to have had great teams behind me to deliver but unless you’re in this position, it’s hard to know the stress I’ve had.
“From the moment I turned professional I was winning and I had pressure to win. Now it’s something more than winning and more than being a moving billboard.”
His African team are involved not only in trying to compete at the top of cycling but also in projects to promote the sport on their continent, including the Qhubeka 5000 challenge, a fundraising initiative aimed at buying bicycles for 5,000 African children.
“We ride for a cause, for a charity, it’s something we really do care about,” said Cavendish.
“It’s 50 per cent of what we do, along with 50 per cent results.”
Results obviously help with getting publicity, though.
“It really is more than a spiel, this is more than representing sponsors,” said Cavendish.
“We have great sponsors... but we really ride for a cause – we want to get 5,000 children on bicycles in Africa.
“There’s no better way to do that than at the biggest bike race in the world, and even better: winning the biggest bike race in the world.”