Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) admitted he can't remember exactly how many races he has now won during his career -121 according to the Procycling stats website, but his victory on the opening stage at the Dubai Tour was a clear message to his rivals and rivals and detractors: He still loves winning and is still ambitious and hungry for success.
Indeed, Cavendish hopes that Etixx-Quick-Step can again be the most successful team in the peloton and wants to win as many of the team's total as he can.
"We won 60 races last year but we want to better than that this year. That's not really a big ask because we've got the motivation and desire to go out and win," he told the media at the Dubai Tour still wearing the blue race leader's jersey.
"I'm super happy with my form and super happy with the cohesion in the team. We rode really strong in Argentina and we're strong here. I've been happy all winter because there's been a good atmosphere at the training camps; we knew we'd start well."
Details of the sprint
Despite being in the thick of the action of the sprint, and admitting that the only thing he saw during the stage was "wheels and male asses", Cavendish was able to perfectly explain the sprint, revealing the details that made a difference and enabled him to win.
His Etixx-Quick-Step team worked hard all day to control the early break and he was understandably critical of an (unnamed) rival team that did not do the hard work but still contested the sprint.
"We planned to have a lead out to go in the last few kilometres but it was so windy that we had use everybody to take the front," Cavendish said.
"Other teams were coming strong as always. There was only ourselves and Giant-Alpecin riding (during the stage). Some teams have bought sprinters this winter but then don't ride for the sprinters in the first races of the year. That doesn't make sense. I think it's a bit disrespectful to the sprinters. It's a sprinter's race here and so ride for a sprint if you bring your sprinters."
"As always my team showed great confidence and rode brilliantly together. I just followed Mark [Renshaw]. He's so patient and so good. I wanted to leave it late because there was a cross-headwind in the finish. Sky went on the left early but Renshaw stayed calm and used them to pick up speed. I felt Swift go on the left and I had to go on the left, too. I was worried that somebody on Swift's wheel would get the jump on me, so I went earlier than I liked. But I knew I have good form. I was okay when I went and was on top of the sprint. I felt Guardini coming back at me but I held good and held on to the line."
Explaining the emotion and meaning of victory was more difficult but was clearly just as special. Additionally, Cavendish could dedicate his win to his friend and fashion designer Paul Smith, who designed the Dubai Tour race jerseys.
"I can't explain the feeling of what it's like to win," he said when asked what thoughts go through his mind as he celebrates victory. "It's nice to win. I like winning. It's hard to explain unless you feel it yourself. I like it though, there's no secret about that."
"To wear the leader's jersey at the Dubai Tour is cool too. My good friend Paul Smith designed jerseys and I saw him a week ago and i said I'd bring him back a jersey. It's good to do that and this win is for him."
"I love it here in Dubai. I come here on holiday with my with family and wife. I like it because there's so much to do in the city but you can go out too. So it's nice to be here to race. It's spectacular to race and ride here."
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