Mark Cavendish enjoyed one of his easiest ever sprint victories at Tirreno-Adriatico but considered his success as something special because of the perfect lead-out produced by his Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates.
While Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) struggled on the late climb and Andre Greipel's Lotto Belisol lead-out derailed on the slick final corner, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step steamrolled to victory, with no one able to hold onto or challenge the five OPQS riders after the late spill. Cavendish jumped away in the final metres to win ahead of Alessandro Petacchi. Omega Pharma-Quick Step arguably deserved to fill the first positions.
"I'm super, super happy," Cavendish said in the winner's press conference. "We'll celebrate tonight and hopefully get another win with our two massive engines Tony Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski tomorrow."
"All the team was fabulous in the finale. We didn’t go too early; Tony went at the front with four kilometres to go, then Kwiatkowski took us into the last corner, then it was Matteo Trentin, Renshaw, Petacchi and then myself."
Cavendish explained how the evolution and specialization of some teams in recent years has made it harder for Omega Pharma-Quick Step to win sprints and target the overall classification in races like Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de France. He claimed they are still successful due to the special team spirit in the Belgian squad.
"Omega Pharma-Quick Step is a super strong team but not only in the legs. We're a super group of friends at dinner and on the bus. We just say 'Lets go out and race our bikes'. There's no pressure. We just want to do well. I hadn't felt that for a long time. But now I'm fresh and nice to be back like that. We've got Kwiatkowski and Trentin who are 23 and also a 40-year-old like Petacchi, but we're a group of kids going out racing our bikes."
Cavendish acknowledged that the 'band of brothers' mentality is vital for his own moral and motivation.
"It's obvious that I don't look like a pro and so what I do in my head is very important; my moral is vital," he said.
"When there's a good group around me, when you've got riders who give their everything, their last drop of energy, it's a nice position to be in. I don't want to let them down and want to going and do my best, while still having fun."
"I haven't seen my family for a few weeks now and won't see them until after Milan-San Remo. It'd be difficult if I was away and miserable. It's not great to be away from home but at least I'm not miserable."
Don't change Milan-San Remo
Cavendish was naturally bombarded with questions about his chances of success at Milan-San Remo after his stage victory and Omega Pharma-QuickStep's show of strength at Tirreno-Adriatico.
He tried to swat them away but also revealed just how thankful he is to have what could be his last ever shot at victory in La Classicissima if RCS Sport insists on making race route hillier and harder in 2015.
"I'm fortunate to get one more shot," he said.
"It's not a secret I disagree with the changes. Italian people have a high regard for history and the history of Milan-San Remo. I think that changing the Milan-San Remo route is like getting Banksy to paint the inside of the Pantheon. It changes the whole race."
"When I knew there was a chance of the Pompeiana being taken out, I became totally focused. I've been training specifically for it and losing weight without jeopardizing things for later in the season."
"I know I have to give it a try. I'm a past winner and I step up for big races, I was also top ten last year. As I said if I don’t ride, for sure I'd regret it. We've got lots options in the team with Boonen and even Kwiatkowski. We've got a meeting on Friday and then we'll decide our plans."