Great Britain's Mark Cavendish has said he has the utmost respect, and hopes to emulate the success, of Australian rival Robbie McEwen, after out-sprinting the Queenslander to take victory at yesterday's Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. The T-Mobile rider was a surprise victor at the Belgian event, expected to be dominated by some of the peloton's older riders.
"I am happy with the team roles this year, and this is the first time I had a free role," said Cavendish after the win. "I grew up respecting Robbie, and I just hope I can be the next Robbie McEwen."
While Cavendish, who turns 21 next month, was already marked as a rider to watch for the future, his quick rise to the rostrum's top step came as a surprise even to T-Mobile sporting director Allan Peiper.
"I knew that Mark has what it takes to win big races," noted a delighted Peiper, "but I didn't think that he could take the big scalps so soon!
"This result was the fruit of a massive team performance," added Peiper. "This is exactly the kind of race profile that suits Mark's talents, so the team did their bit to set him up and lead him out.
Yesterday's victory was the first of Cavendish's professional career with the T-Mobile ProTour squad.