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Giro d'Italia

Mark Cavendish on Giro d’Italia win: ‘You don’t have to be the strongest to win’

British star returns to the Giro for the first time since 2013, and dashes to his 16th career win in the first bunch sprint in the 2022 Giro.

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BALANTONFÜRED, Hungary (VN) — Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) came up aces in what he called a “chess match on wheels” to win stage 3 at the Giro d’Italia in the last of three days in Hungary.

Cavendish returned to the Giro this year for the first time since 2013, and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl made quick work of an elite field that included the likes of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ).

“I think there are a few guys who are just as strong and fast, the strongest and fastest doesn’t necessarily mean the best,” Cavendish said. “I’ve never been that but I win. Caleb has the fastest legs, Fabio is the strongest, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you win.”

Also read: Giro d’Italia: Mark Cavendish wins stage 3 sprint in Balantonfüred

“Sprinting is like chess on wheels,” Cavendish said. “You work out how to be the strongest and fastest on the road.”

Cavendish came into this Giro swirling with uncertainty, but he reminded everyone he is still a force to reckon with by jumping to victory in the first real mass gallop of the 2022 Giro.

As always, Cavendish was quick to thank his leadout train, anchored by Davide Ballerini, Bert Van Lergerghe, and Michael Mørkøv.

“If you have the guys on that list, it leaves me full of confidence. I know it’s on me, I know I’ve got the best group of guys around me, there are no excuses,” he said. “I haven’t had a full team like this year like Fabio, so it’s nice to get that at the Giro.”

With Quick-Step taking control late, Cavendish just had to finish off the work, good for his 16th career stage win.

“I am happy to be back here. I love racing, I love Italy, and I love the Giro,” he said. “This race it’s been nice to me. It’s super nice to win today.”

Cavendish also lauded local officials for the “big start” in Hungary.

“It’s been incredible the last days here, the crowds are incredible,” he said. “Just the amount of people on bikes and love they have for the Giro and cycling, it’s been an incredible welcome and a privilege to be here, and a special privilege to win here.”

Cavendish won’t be winning for the next few days. Monday’s transfer is followed by the summit finale to Mount Etna. Stage 5 on Wednesday sees a challenging second-category summit in the front half of the stage, setting up a chance for the breakaway specialists.

With one stage victory under his belt, the pressure is already off.

“It was really important to win early, the pressure is off now, and now we can enjoy our rest/travel day. We are really happy with the team,” said teammate Pieter Serry.

“Of course we believed in him, but still you have to do it,” Serry said. “We are here with a fantastic leadout team. Chapeaux for the team. We try to keep on fighting for the victory in the Giro as long as possible.”