Cavendish overcomes flat tire in sprint for Turkey stage win

Manxman sees bit of himself in young teammate Julian Alaphilippe

Etixx-QuickStep defied the odds on Monday to further hush the doubts over their lead-out train.

It has been a challenge for the Belgian squad to perfect their sprint set-up since Mark Cavendish joined in 2013 and his former HTC lead-out man Mark Renshaw followed in 2014.

But not only did they make it two wins from two stages at the Tour of Turkey on Monday, they did so with Cavendish coming across the line on a flat tire.

What is more, Renshaw also punctured in the closing stages before coming back to lead out.

“We went round a corner with 5km to go and my wheel went from me and I thought ‘that’s not good’,” said Cavendish.

“I had a little bounce and it was spongy, it wasn’t totally flat but it was really spongy and I thought ‘oh god, I either stop now…’ but then we were already on our third guy in the train so if I stopped we were one man short for [Mark] Renshaw anyway. So I thought ‘I’ll give it a crack’. I went easy round the last two corners then, yeah, went for it.

“I had confidence in my team. If they kept me at the front on the corners then I was always going to be ok, and they were super strong.”

Renshaw himself suffered a flat tire at an inopportune moment just inside 20km to go but, unlike Cavendish, managed to get a wheel change. Even so, he could have done without Lampre-Merida – who took second through Sacha Modolo – taking it up early.

“They passed us so Renshaw had to go a lot earlier than yesterday,” added Cavendish. “He was fading, I was trying to hang on until they went before I went, and he was losing his speed. He had to do a lot longer and ultimately made it a little bit slower when we initially started the last sprint.

Cavendish praises Alaphilippe

Mark Cavendish reckons he can see shades of himself in his young Etixx-QuickStep teammate Julian Alaphilippe.

The 22-year-old announced himself as one of cycling’s brightest prospects last week by finishing second at both Fleche-Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Cavendish, speaking after making it two from two at the Tour of Turkey on Monday, was not surprised by the results and has noticed a mentality in the Frenchman that suggests a stellar future is in store.

“He’s a good kid, I really like him,” said the Manxman. “Always, since he started on the team, there’s something about him – he’s got a winner’s attitude on him. Not in riding style but definitely in his personality, he reminds me of myself when I was young. There’s a bit of asshole in there.

“I really like it, you can see, obviously his riding style is different to mine but his mentality, I really see him with a big career.”

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