Cycling: Giro d'Italia has shown Mark Cavendish's Team Sky have work to do

 

Having taken three wins in this year’s Giro d’Italia, despite suffering just as many crashes, Mark Cavendish looks as strong as he ever has.

But with his greatest challenges - the Tour de France and Olympic road race - still to come, his first two weeks in a Grand Tour with Team Sky suggest that he needs greater support. Quite simply, his new team is weaker than his former team, HTC-Highroad, and is yet to establish a foolproof winning formula. Twice last week they failed to deliver Cavendish to the line.

In stage 11 they thundered through the streets of Montecatini-Terme in Tuscany only to lose control within sight of the finish when lead-out man Geraint Thomas’ pedal hit the ground, causing his wheel to jump and costing their sprinter a stage win.

Then, in stage 13, Team Sky was overpowered by Orica-GreenEdge in the final metres. Despite the disintegration of his lead-out, Cavendish was able to make do and take the stage. A win is still a win, but it was far from the textbook delivery the perfectionist has grown accustomed to.

Last year Cavendish’s lead-out train was the best in the world, but at the end of the season his former team dissolved and those that led him to victory splintered in multiple directions. In the ongoing Giro d’Italia, the first Grand Tour of the season, the united force of last year now stands divided – each rider a top-flight competitor in their own right.

Lars Bak, who used to close the gap on breakaways, has been the one making the moves and he claimed victory in stage 12 doing just that. Matt Goss, who used to lead Cavendish until 800m to go, has been one of his main competitors with a stage win and several days in the points jersey under his belt. And Mark Renshaw, who delivered the world champion within 200m of the finish line, now aims to claim stage wins for himself.

But one former team HTC-Highroad rider remains faithful. Bernhard Eisel, like he did last year, coordinates Cavendish’s team and ramps the pace 1.5km from the finish. “Bernie is one of the best in the world at positioning the team on the road when they are all lined out behind him," says team coach Rod Ellingworth.

During stage 13, the Austrian led the Team Sky train when it was at its most dominant. For 34 seconds he kept Cavendish in the perfect position, as he hammered down over 1200 watts at up to 64kph. But as Eisel handed the lead over to Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas, they struggled to keep their man ahead of his competitors.

The Giro d’Italia is the only Grand Tour in which Cavendish is yet to win the points jersey. Having decided to stick out the mountains when other sprinters dropped out to save their legs for later races, it looks like Cavendish intends to clear up his unfinished business in the Giro.

Though he has proved himself to be a league above the rest, the Briton has the world of cycling trying to crack him. In both the Tour de France and the Olympics, the pressure will be higher and the attacks fiercer. Team Sky will need a full-firing engine to keep their man on top. It’s not yet clear whether they will be able to deliver.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?