Team Sky experienced a largely uneventful Liege-Bastogne-Liege in what was the 100th edition of the Ardennes one-day classic.
Prior to the race 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome was lauded by many as one of the favourites to claim the win and end the Ardennes and spring one-day classics on a high for Sky.
However, a chest infection meant that Froome was forced to withdraw from the race and Sky, who were already low on numbers, went through an innocuous 263 kilometres in the legendary Belgian race.
Australian Nathan Earle, riding his debut season for Sky, was the sole surviver for the team and made it home in 70th position after fellow Australian, Orica – GreenEdge's Simon Gerrans, had claimed top-spot in a dramatic finish.
"It was pretty tough out there but it was a really nice experience," said 25-year-old Earle after his first Ardennes campaign. "This has been one of my favourite races ever since I started cycling. It’s a bit of a dream come true just to ride it, let alone finish it. It was a tough day but I’m happy to be able to finish it for the team."
Sky's Peter Kennaugh was also pulled out of the race because of illness and Dave Brailsford said that there was no need risking anything.
"He's just feeling empty, you know, he's been feeling that for the last few days and when somebody's like that there's no point in pushing on,” said Brailsford. “You've got to cut your losses and get him right."
David Lopez withdrew from the monument after he crashed 76km from the finish with no real hope of recovering. Richie Porte, who made his one-day racing return, also failed to reach the finish line in his attempts to return to full fitness after an illness that has seen him withdrawn from the Giro d'Italia.
That was previously his big target this season but after being pulled out of the Italian grand tour, he will now solely focus on helping Froome defend his Tour de France title.
The pair will line up together at the Tour of Romandie which Froome won last year, and will hope for a much improved performance compared to that in Liege-Bostogne-Liege on Sunday as the preparation for July continues.
Brailsford attempted to explain Team Sky's largely disappointing season so far and blamed the bad luck and illnesses that the team has had this year.
"When you actually analyse and look at all of the illnesses and crashes we've had this year, we've had proportionally more than you’d expect to have and when you look at the last couple of years, we've had proportionally less than you’d expect to have. It’s like we've saved them all up and had them at once…."
Cavendish wins second stage in a row at Tour of Turkey
Mark Cavendish took stage two and his second consecutive stage win in Turkey after the Omega Pharma – QuickStep rider was victorious in a bunch sprint.
Teammate Mark Renshaw helped Cavendish through what was a frantic finale giving the Manxman a perfect lead-out to beat Francesco Chicchi (Yellow Fluo) by a bike length.
Niccolo Bonifazio (Lempre) finshed in third while Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Theo Bos (Belkin) failed in their fight for positions in the sprint.
On Tuesday the Tour takes to the mountains as stage three features the uphill finish to Elmali.
Tour of Turkey 2014, stage two: Alanya to Kemer
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep in 3-50-17
2. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Yellow Fluo
3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
5. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural all same time
Overall classification after stage two
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep in 7-06-00
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
4. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin
5. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport-Vlaanderen all same time
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