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Mark Cavendish brushed off a lingering cold from Tirreno-Adriatico to take his first European win of the season at Milano-Torino. The victory was Cavendish’s third of the season and his first in Italy since 2014.
The British rider and his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team had to chase down a series of breaks in the last 40km of racing and at one point it looked as though Cavendish’s leadout train was beginning to fragment inside the final 4km.
However, the Belgian squad regrouped and Michael Mørkøv put in a huge turn in order to deliver Cavendish to the line.
Although Nacer Bouhanni and Alexandre Kristoff both put up valiant opposition, Cavendish was in the driving seat with about 150m to go, and from there he never looked back.
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“I’m still a bit sick, to be honest, that’s why I’m happy I could still win. I’m still a bit sick but when you can get a sprint team, in a sprint race, then you know that victory is still possible,” he said at the finish.
Cavendish was quick to praise his team after the win. The Belgian squad first chased down the three-man break of the day and then had to reel in Ben Healy (EF Education – EasyPost) when the Irishman skipped clear in the final 15km. Healy put in a huge attack that brought him a 15-second lead before Quick-Step reacted.
“That was nice. It was my first time racing in Milano-Torino. In a one-day race, you only have one shot at victory so it has to go right the first time. And that’s what makes it extra special. I’m happy. I had an incredible team there. We had Pieter Serry controlling the whole day and then we had engines like Dries Devenyns, Rémi Cavagna, Mattia Cattaneo, Louis Vervaeke, and Michael. I’m super happy to finish that off,” Cavendish added.
“I just got delivered by Michael plain and simple. It wasn’t easy because we had to use our guys up quite early because there were a couple of riders still away, and that left Michael to surf the wheels in the final. He stayed super calm, just like he always does. He came on the inside on the last corner and then he just went. That was it. I just came off his wheel and held it to the line. I knew that if he delivered me to the front then I’d have the best shot at winning. The guys were incredible.”
Cavendish will not race this weekend’s Milan-San Remo with Fabio Jakobsen set to lead the line for Patrick Lefevere’s team. Cavendish’s next competitive outing comes at the Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne later this month.