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Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) won the opener at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on Sunday.
A five-man break went clear early in the 145km stage, a circuit around Alanya, with Mario Costa (Lampre-Merida), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF), Luis Mas (Caja Rural), Adam Phelan (Drapac) and Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare).
Once they were brought back, the Etixx train delivered Cavendish to the victory and the first turquoise leader’s jersey ahead of Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF).
The Manxman, who won the same stage last year, said he was recovering from a virus and was happy “to stop and reset everything and to now get going again.”
“I don’t think I’m in as good of condition as I could have been without the interruption, but I am definitely happy where I am,” he said. “We’ll keep going and try to win more at this race.”
Ewan said it felt a bit “surreal” to be racing against Cavendish, but hoped to get another crack at beating him.
“It’s kind of weird racing him, I guess. I was always watching him growing up, and now actually racing him, and not just racing with him, but, you know, when you’re right up there sprinting against him, it’s a pretty surreal feeling,” he said. “I’m not happy with second, though. I think if I had a better run, I could almost beat him.”
Monday’s second stage is a 182.3km leg that likewise seems tailor-made from a bunch sprint.