By Bjorn Haake in Schoten, Belgium
Mark Cavendish of Team High Road came out of nowhere to silence the crowd at the Scheldeprijs that had already started celebrating the victory of local hero Tom Boonen, arriving fresh off his Paris-Roubaix victory. Cavendish was so fast in the final metres that neither Boonen nor the crowd realised he was closing in.
The cheers increased in volume as Boonen approached the line and even started to lift an arm in a celebration salute. What followed was the transformation from a roar of cheering into a much quieter grunt of disappointment. A dejected-looking Boonen crossed the line in disbelief that he let this one slip out of his hands and into the Manxman's.
Cavendish couldn't believe he almost let it slip out of his hands, admitting "I was too far back", and thinking the team would have been mad at him if he lost it on such a rookie error. Boonen wasn't the only one who let up too early, forcing the Briton to zig-zag through a splintered peloton. "Some riders sprint until the 300-metre mark," said an astonished Cavendish. "It was like dodging traffic islands. [But] anybody has the right to sprint. It's a one day race.
"I am not mad at those people," he added. "I am just justifying why I am so far back."
Cavendish, who claimed his second consecutive victory at the event, clarified his outburst after last week's Gent-Wevelgem, where he was visibly upset after the finish. "Last week, I couldn't even sprint, because there were so many people in front of me that were coming back [towards me]," he said.
Read the full interview with Mark Cavendish.