Mark Cavendish has taken his first win in more than three years, with the Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider out-sprinting his rivals to take the second stage of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey in Konya today.
The former world champion finished strongly to clinch the 144.9 kilometre stage from Jasper Philipsen of Alpecin-Fenix, and Israel Start-Up Nation’s Andre Greipel.
Cavendish, who also takes the overall lead at the race, last won on the road in February 2018 at the Dubai Tour.
Speaking after the victory, Cavendish said: “It’s incredible, it’s super nice and I never get tired of this feeling! Everyone on the team was incredibly committed today and that was very important.
"I knew after yesterday that I had the speed needed to win and I also knew that if I would be on Greipel’s wheel, I would have a shot coming into the last couple of hundred meters. Philipsen jumped early and had a small gap, but I had enough to make up ground and I must say I was quite surprised at how quickly I came in the final meters of the stage.
“I want to thank Deceuninck–Quick-Step and Patrick for giving me this opportunity. Patrick believed in me and I am so lucky to be here in this special team, in this family.
"Some people didn’t think I could get back to winning, but he did and for that I am grateful. Just to get back to winning after what I’ve been through in the last couple of years is truly incredible.
"To win again was emotional and to hug all my teammates after the finish was amazing. What made me super proud was that Fabio [Jakobsen] was involved in this, working at the front in the finale together with the other guys, especially after what he has been through. As I said, this team is a family and I am happy to be part of it."
Since four stages at the 2016 Tour de France, Cavendish's only other victories since then came at the Abu Dhabi Tour, winning two stages in October of that year and another one in February 2017 when the race moved to an early season slot.
Now 35, Cavendish’s spell with Dimension Data , which he joined in 2016, coincided with him fighting the Epstein-Barr virus, and he was left out of the team for the 2019 Tour de France, the first time in 13 years he had missed the race.
Cavendish switched to Bahrain-McLaren last year but failed to secure and victories during the COVID 19-affecetd season and again was not selected for the Tour de France.
In an emotional interview following Gent-Wevelgem in October, he hinted that he may have ridden his last race, but in early December it was announced that he was rejoining Deceuninck–Quick-Step, whom he rode for from 2013-15, on a one-year contract.
Images: Stuart Franklin, Getty Images
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