Armchair ride to Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne win after Oman troubles
When Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) wins, and it's a regular occurrence, you can bet that the first words to come from his mouth will be praise for his team. And today was no exception - except for an expletive on live Belgian television - when the world champion swooped to win Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne at the first attempt.
The Manxman rode a faultless race, unseen and protected throughout as his teammates set about lining him up for the win. Frankly this season could become a cakewalk for Cavendish if things continue in this vein, so apparent was his dominance in an event he'd never raced. While he talked about the race for the win his rivals were left discussing their attempt and fight over who would be on his wheel.
"But I can't take any credit for that win at all," he told reporters in his post-race press conference.
"I didn't do anything except for with 270 meters. I think I even made it harder for them. I was vomiting the whole day and didn't feel well until about 50 to go. I even said to CJ be prepared you may need to sprint."
In the end CJ Sutton was prepared, the defending champion leading Cavendish out and delivering him to a winnable position.
"I always had guys with me at every stage," Cavendish added.
"I was always in the top ten going into every climb and didn't have to look at the wind. A group went and we had three guys in the front so we were secure. The rest of the guys stayed around me."
The only moment Cavendish's chances looked in the balance indeed came when a formidably strong group broke clear on the Oude Kwaremont. Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma QuickStep), Alessandro Ballan (Team BMC) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin- Barracuda) were amongst the rebels but without any cohesion they failed to establish a buffer, and with three Sky chaperones in the escape it was left to Lotto to bring the move back.
"I just sat there behind my guys until the finish. It was incredible," the winner said.
"I'm so, so happy. I wanted to make this jersey proud. It's my first time racing Kuurne but there's nowhere better to show of this jersey than in Belgium because of what cycling means to the people. I wanted to come and do this here."
Sky has worked hard on perfecting its lead-out since Cavendish signed for them at the tail end of 2011. Tweaks have clearly been made since the Tour of Oman, where Cavendish admitted that the team had not performed as efficiently as they did today.
"It couldn't have been any better, it as textbook. It was exactly what we wanted. Things weren't working-out in Oman, I was even giving the guys some shit in Oman. It could have been easy for them to come here and say 'fuck off' but they did the exact opposite and they just really clicked. It worked so well today.
"I like things to work and I like them to work straight away. It's more frustration, it's not like anybody did anything wrong. I just like things to be perfect. Everything is perfect now."