Mark Cavendish had to fight his way back to the front to win his third stage of the 2015 Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on Saturday.
The Etixx-Quick-Step sprinter lost ground on the final first-category climb, but his teammates brought him back to the lead group with 12km remaining in the 166km seventh stage from Selcuk to Izmir.
And the 29-year-old Manxman repaid them by beating Andrea Piechele (Bardiani-CSF) and Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka) for the hat trick.
“In terms of the sprint this was probably my easiest win with a reduced field,” Cavendish said. “We didn’t have a lot of the pure sprinters there and we knew that. I felt super good all the way until the line and I’m super happy with this win.
“I never went over the limit at any point today. It would have probably been worse if I had stayed with the first group instead of us riding within ourselves.”
Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) retains the overall lead by 21 seconds over Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polowice) going into Sunday’s eighth and final stage in Istanbul. The 121km circuit looks to be another one for the sprinters.