The Manxman has claimed all three of the bunch sprints in Turkey to date and he was a convincing winner in Marmaris at the end of stage 4, after Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Renshaw piloted him through the final kilometre.
“The team stayed with me on the final climb and gathered together as soon as they could at the top of the climb. They went hard from 5 [kilometres] to go, super fast. It was a textbook lead-out,” Cavendish said afterwards. “If the sprinter doesn’t really have to do anything then you know he’s got an extraordinary team around him. Today they were incredible, it was exactly what Patrick Lefevere meant when he put this team together.”
Although Cavendish racked up 19 victories in 2013, his QuickStep lead-out train appeared to lack the cohesion of Marcel Kittel’s cohort at Argos-Shimano [now Giant-Shimano]. With that in mind, Lefevere brought Alessandro Petacchi out of semi-retirement in August and then reunited Cavendish with his old HTC-Highroad lead-out man Mark Renshaw during the off-season.
“We’ve got strength in numbers in the train, we’ve got lead-out specialists in the train now, like the other teams have – like Lotto have, like Giant-Shimano have. We’ve got specialist lead-out guys now,” Cavendish said. “When they come together it’s a beautiful thing to be behind to see it working in motion.
“It’s obvious it’s gelling. When you win and you win in that fashion there’s nothing you can say because it was 100 percent perfect in my opinion.”
Cavendish has been dominant in Turkey but he acknowledged that it was difficult to gauge his true form given that André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) is returning from injury and Kittel is not present. The Manxman will miss the Giro d'Italia this year and instead ride the Tour of California, but he will face both Kittel and Greipel in July at the Tour de France.
“André Greipel hasn’t been sprinting this week, so I don’t know,” Cavendish said. “I think it’s always going to be a duel between the two Germans and myself and I’ll look forward to that at the Tour.”
Cavendish also paid tribute to the race organisers for acting swiftly to neutralise the race early in the stage after a sudden burst of heavy rainfall left the roads in a treacherous state.
“The roads on the inland of Turkey are like marble when they’re wet, it was incredible. Even going uphill, around the corner the wheels were going and everyone started crashing,” Cavendish said. “The organisers made a wise, wise decision to neutralise the race, there were guys everywhere. For that I take my hat off to them. To consider the riders’ safety, it’s something you don’t see often in the sport any more.”
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