Fans of the poet Burns will be familiar with the phrase ‘The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft agley’.
And if he did not know before, then Mark Cavendish will certainly have learned exactly what it means when his bid to wear the Tour de France’s yellow jersey for the first time was cruelly ended by a chaotic end to the first stage of the 100th edition of the race in June.
Cavendish’s preparations could not have gone much better – having won the Giro d’Italia red jersey in May, the Manx Missile followed it with his first ever national championship success.
Attacking very early in the race to form an elite escape group alongside the likes of defending champion, Ian Stannard (Team Sky), and David Millar (Garmin-Sharp), Cavendsh sprinted to victory in Glasgow to ensure he started the Tour de France in the iconic blue and red striped jersey.
His preparations even extended to his gear – having been spotted testing SRAM’s new RED 22 hydraulic rim brakes in Corsica after earlier speaking at the launch of his new ‘CVNDSH’ logo in London.
But no amount of pre-planning could have prepared the Manx Missile, or indeed any of the Tour de France peloton, for the chaos which struck towards the end of the opening stage in Corsica.
The Orica-GreenEDGE team bus earned its place in cycling infamy when it became wedged under the finish barrier, despite desperate attempts to free it.
Organisers moved the finish line, but just as the bus was freed, decided to return it to its planned finish, wreaking havoc on the peloton and ultimately leading to a huge crash.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) were among the riders brought down while Cavendish became trapped behind the carnage.
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), of course, was the man to take full advantage as we saw the first indications of the German’s ability to rival Cavendish when he sprinted into the yellow jersey.
Another new hero was born the following day – Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard) – after his daring attack saw him win the second stage despite the peloton bearing down upon him just a second behind.
Not all preparations in June were to have been in vain however, with Chris Froome firing a huge warning shot to his rivals with a dominant victory in the Criterium du Dauphine.
Rui Costa (Movistar), also gave an indication of his ability with victory for the second year running in the Tour de Suisse and both, of course, were to have a significant impact on the Tour.
Elsewhere, Brian Cookson launched his challenge to Pat McQuaid for the UCI presidency, which after a long rumbling saga ultimately resulted in victory.
It also proved to be a successful month for Lizzie Armitstead, crowned British women’s champion, Jo Rowsell, national women’s time trial winner, and Alex Dowsett who won the men’s race against the clock.
For Mark Cavendish, June ultimately – despite much promise – proved to be unsuccessful as his chief goal – claiming the first maillot jaune of the hundredth Tour de France – went unfulfilled.
Nevertheless, for compatriots like Chris Froome, Hannah Barnes and Brian Cookson, June 2013 proved to be a springboard for greater success to come.
The same was true much closer to home too, as with the Etape du Tour looming, our man George Scott took advice from Etape veteran Mike Cotty and even from Team Sky as he planned his assault on the famous sportive.
The best laid plans of mice and men may often go awry – but they do not always.