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Cavendish claims his first GC victory

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Overall race winner Mark Cavendish (Sky)

Overall race winner Mark Cavendish (Sky) (Image credit: Elmar Krings)
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Mark Cavendish swiches from the World Champion's jersey to the yellow jersey

Mark Cavendish swiches from the World Champion's jersey to the yellow jersey (Image credit: Elmar Krings)
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Mark Cavendish (Sky) with the winner's trophy

Mark Cavendish (Sky) with the winner's trophy (Image credit: Elmar Krings)
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Mark Cavendish (Sky) finishes up the race.

Mark Cavendish (Sky) finishes up the race. (Image credit: Elmar Krings)
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Mark Cavendish (Sky) in the peloton

Mark Cavendish (Sky) in the peloton (Image credit: Elmar Krings)

Team Sky's Mark Cavendish claimed the first general classification victory of his career by winning the Ster ZLM Toer on Sunday by eight seconds ahead of Lars Boom (Rabobank).

"I've been second a couple of times in the past but this is my first GC win and I'm really, really happy with it," said Cavendish.

Top three places on the opening two stages in Holland had put him joint top of the standings but the race-defining performance came in Saturday's queen stage as the world champion stayed in the mix throughout on the hilly route in the Ardennes.

"The team rode so well yesterday, setting such a high tempo on the front that guys were going out the back all day," said Cavendish. "We were down to just 25 at the finish - it was incredible and I'm really proud of what we did."

While some of his fellow sprinters lost upwards of 13 minutes, Cavendish was in contention right to the finish as he chased home stage winner Boom on the climb to the line.

And he then closed out the overall win on the pan-flat final stage from Schijndel to Boxtel, with Team Sky and Rabobank dictating matters on the 163.5-kilometres route to make sure it ended with a bunch sprint.

"In today's final stage there was a dangerous guy up the road in the break at just one minute back on the GC but we managed to bring it all back together.

Looking ahead to the Tour de France and Olympic road race, Cavendish said, "I'm training really well. I wanted to be in my best form and definitely am so I'm looking forward to France now and hopefully Team Sky getting the green and yellow jerseys."

"It's pretty much about relaxing now and really looking after myself these next two weeks. You've got to start the Tour de France as fresh as possible - especially so this year with the Olympics so soon after."