Longstanding Deceuninck-QuickStep sports director Wilfried Peeters has said that the team are "proud" of their role in the comeback of Mark Cavendish. The Briton's return to the Tour de France has so far yielded two stage victories. Peeters insists that it was the Briton's hard work which made the key differences, and "we have a lot of respect for him because of that."
Peeters and Cavendish have not had the easiest relationship in the past but the Belgian said that one welcome benefit of Cavendish's return to the squad was that they have buried the hatchet for good.
"Now we are more friends that we were before," Peeters told Cyclingnews, "when he came back to the team [in December 2020], I picked him up at the airport and he said 'Fitte, I was wrong.'
"From the first day he started [in the team in 2013] there was miscommunication between the two of us and I was too respectful. But that is in the past. Today, when he won, he was crying in my arms."
Peeters added that when the team sat down with Cavendish over the winter of 2020-2021, their initial goal was that Cavendish continue as a racer but there had been no plan for him to produce a certain level of results.
"So now he has, I'm more surprised, and I'm happier," Peeters continued.
One thing Deceuninck-QuickStep were adamant could not happen, Peeters said, was that Cavendish end his time as a pro in as low-key a fashion as looked very likely in October last year, before he signed for the Belgian squad.
"When you know his career all the victories and the world championships, the last three years were bad and when you saw him in Gent-Wevelgem he is not a rider that can stop on this level," Peeters said. "So we brought him back and we are proud of that. He is back in his family."
Peeters insisted that it was Cavendish who had done the hard yards since then and that it was the team's support that provided him with the framework and backing he needed.
"I didn't do anything, he did. He made it. He trained hard, he is very motivated. He has a lot of friends here and we have a lot of respect for him. That's what made all the difference."
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