Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma QuickStep) completed a perfect Giro d'Italia and became only the fifth rider in history to win the points competition in all three Grand Tours with yet another perfectly executed sprint in Brescia.
The Cannondale team and Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole) tired to take on the Manxman in the final kilometre but he let the Cannondale riders burn themselves out and then accelerated to win from the front.
Modolo could only follow in his slipstream to take second, with Elia Viviani (Cannondale) third.
Cavendish scored 25 points for his win. He had already picked up enough points in intermediate sprints to retake the lead in the competition and so won with a total of 158 points, 30 more than Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
"I'm so happy to have won. I tried to win the red jersey last year but missed it by a point. This time I got it. It's always difficult to win the red jersey but we got the stages we wanted and the jersey we wanted," he said, again happy to share his success with his teammates.
"The team did an incredible job, I couldn't have done it without them.
Every stage we contested, we won. They helped me in the sprints and in the mountains, they were always there to help me. It's difficult not to win with this team.
Cavendish joined Eddy Merckx, Laurent Jalabert, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov and Alessandro Petacchi as the only riders to win the points jersey in all three Grand Tours.
"The Giro points jersey is the most difficult to win for the simple fact that there are less sprint stages and more uphill finishes," he said.
"Last year I went full gas for three weeks and lost for one point.
There's nothing you can do about it, at the Giro the points classification is more suited to climbers."
Of his five stage wins at this year's Giro d'Italia, Cavendish picked number four to Cherasco as the best.
"I think it was the best of them all. It was such a hard day and a hilly stage. It was one of my best wins and one of my best sprints of my career," he explained.
Addicted to winning
Cavendish has now won 102 races during his career and is only 28 years old. His motivation is simple.
"I'm addicted to winning," he said.
"Ever since I was a child, it wasn't enough to be the best I could, I had to be the best of all. When you have a team, you have to deliver 100 per cent and that's what I try to do."
"I could try to be a classics rider but I'm given good opportunities to win and paid good money, so I try and win bike races whenever I can. If some one comes along who is faster than me, I'll go home, work harder in the winter and come back faster the year after."
He is close to achieving his career ambitions but will then find something else to aim at.
"When I turned professional, I set down a list of the things that I wanted to achieve. This was missing but now it's ticked off," he explained.
"There's only one thing left now and that's Gent-Wevelgem. But I’ll still keep finding things to do and I'll keep pushing it further and see how far I can get in my career."
The best party in the world
Cavendish will head home and start thinking about the Tour de France after a party in Italy with his Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates. He criticised them after a mix up in the finale of the Scheldeprijs race in mid-Aril but the success at the Giro d'Italia has created a special team spirit and friendship, that is another vital source of inspiration and motivation for Cavendish.
“This team at the Giro is incredibly special, we haven't only grown as a team, we're a group of friends. I can't remember when my teammates last gathered in a rider's room for a couple of hours every night. That shows that we’re good friends and that this more than just a job. I'm really excited about the future," he said.
"I always say that when 9 guys give 100 per cent you come out on top. That's what we did. We're going to celebrate tonight. It'll be one of the best parties in the world with these guys."
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