Mark Cavendish win in Milano-Sanremo amazed teammate Bernhard Eisel. The Austrian led Cavendish on to the Cipressa in the race's finale, 28 kilometres before the sprinter went on to win by 11 centimetres.
"Cav at just 23-years-old is already a legend," Eisel told Cyclingnews.
Eisel and Cavendish prepared for Sanremo in Italy with the Eroica Toscana, March 7, and the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, March 11 to 17. Cavendish won the final stage of Tirreno, four days before Sanremo.
"It was his first Sanremo so we rode the finale twice. He knew the importance of this race, as it is a Monument, but he was worried when he saw Le Mànie for the first time and he said, 'Oh my god, I am never going to make it.' He was climbing well in Tirreno, so we encouraged him to try."
Cavendish's win was made even more impressive considering it was his debut in the race. He was up against seasoned professionals who have tried for many years to win – Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd and Daniele Bennati – and others were going for their second – Alessandro Petacchi and Filippo Pozzato.
"He was so nervous in the last days with so much pressure on his shoulders. The team worked hard for him, but for a 23-year-old to get the win, you have no words for that."
Cavendish is the youngest winner since Eddy Merckx won in 1966. Only Merckx and Ugo Agostoni (1914) have won the race at a younger age – both were 20.