TOUR DE FRANCE WATCH: Cavendish fuming against 'imbeciles'
NEELTJE JANS, Netherlands (AP) Ace sprinter Mark Cavendish's Etixx-Quickstep team was fighting for both the stage win and the yellow jersey at the Tour de France on Sunday. It ended empty-handed.
The double failure had the Belgian team clearly frustrated, with Cavendish first blaming his lead-out man Mark Renshaw then calling his critics ''imbeciles'' who don't understand cycling.
After Renshaw launched the final sprint with about 300 meters to go, Cavendish was easily beaten at the Stage 2 finish by Andre Greipel, Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara in the Zeeland Delta.
''I think Mark went too early and kind of left me hanging. We died,'' Cavendish said. ''The day Cancellara beats me in a sprint I've gone too long. I've gassed it. It's disappointing.''
Cavendish, who has 25 Tour stage wins to his name, seemed to stop his effort after realizing he would not be able to clinch the win. That attitude that was not to the liking of Etixx-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere.
''I am not happy at all. Probably this was our last chance to take the yellow jersey,'' Lefevere said.
Had Cavendish finished third, he would have denied Cancellara a bonus of four seconds that helped the Swiss veteran grab the yellow jersey at the expenses of Tony Martin, who also rides for Etixx-QuickStep.
''Cavendish stopped sprinting and this costs Tony the jersey,'' Lefevere said.
Cavendish then took to Twitter to express his feelings about people criticizing him on social media.
''If I could hang on for 3rd, I could hang on for the win,'' he wrote. ''Some imbeciles think cycling is a computer game.''
A GOOD BONUS FOR CANCELLARA
Since 2008 there had been no time bonus awarded at the Tour de France stage finishes. They are back this year, and Fabian Cancellara made the most of them on Sunday to erase the disappointment of his opening time trial.
After failing in his bid to win the Tour's opening stage for a record sixth time on the streets of Utrecht, Cancellara sprinted to a third-place finish at the end of Sunday's rain-soaked second stage of the Tour. That was enough to earn him a four-second bonus and the yellow jersey.
''To finish third here against the three best sprinters in the world is a big achievement,'' said Cancellara, who ended the chaotic stage on the shores of the North Sea behind Andre Greipel and Peter Sagan. Ace sprinter Mark Cavendish finished fourth.
''I was really sorry yesterday, today I'm happy. Coming here and win another yellow jersey, for a 29th day, it's great,'' said Cancellara, who wore the coveted tunic for the first time 11 years ago.
Competing in his final Tour de France, the 34-year-old time trial and one-day classics specialist was involved in a bad crash in March, suffering two minor fractures to his lower back at the E3 Harelbeke classic. The crash forced him to miss the cobbled classics he loves so much, returning to competition at the end of May.
''It was not a nice time,'' Cancellara said. ''Not being at the classics was not a good thing for my motivation. And it's only last weekend that I started to feel good again.''
Cancellara added that an encouraging text message from sports director Josu Larrazabal he received on Saturday night lifted his morale.
''I was on a massage table and I probably read it 10 times,'' he said. ''It was one of the best messages I received in months. This was maybe the key I needed to open the door. It opened today, and I'm back in yellow.
SECURITY IS TOP PRIORITY
This year more than ever, security is a top priority for Tour de France organizers.
In the wake of the terror attacks that have shaken France this year, the level of alertness has been raised and the Tour de France, which draws millions of spectators over three weeks, is being given extra security by French authorities.
''We are liaising with them and additional measures have been taken,'' said Tour director Chrtistian Prudhomme. ''I can't obviously reveal the whole scheme.''
At the start of Sunday's second stage in Utrecht, Netherlands, fans invited to the Village Depart - the place where VIPs, sponsors and journalists gather before the start - had their bags checked by security officials. Barriers were also separating the spectators from the riders and their team buses.
''I have seen a lot of security at an appropriate level, I think it's difficult to envisage how that could be any more,'' UCI president Brian Cookson told The Associated Press. ''The Dutch authorities here have done a very good job in maintaining security. Everyone has a responsibility for safety and security. That applies to the teams, the riders, as much to the race organizations. And it applies to the spectators as well.''
DON'T CROSS THE TRACKS
After some riders ignored lowered barriers at a railroad crossing during Paris-Roubaix earlier this year, Tour de France organizers are taking action.
In accordance with cycling's governing body rules, riders who will ignore the flashing lights and sound warnings at railroad crossings will be thrown out of the Tour.
Police forces and members of the race organization will be posted at every crossing on the race course to ensure the rules are enforced.
France's national rail company SNCF filed a lawsuit after the Paris-Roubaix incident. Tour organizers said they are cooperating with the SNCF during the Tour.
During Paris-Roubaix, a railway crossing gate went down, nearly hitting one rider and forcing other cyclists to wait for a high-speed train to pass just after some riders crossed the tracks.