Peeters: Mark Cavendish is close to winning again

Scheldeprijs 2021 - 109th Edition - Terneuzen - Schoten 193,8 km - 07/04/2021 - Mark Cavendish (GBR - Deceuninck - Quick-Step) - photo Peter De Voecht/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in the lead group at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

After taking third place at Wednesday's Scheldeprijs, Mark Cavendish will head to the Tour of Turkey on Sunday as part of a sprint-focussed Deceuninck-QuickStep squad for the eight-day stage race.

Since re-joining the Belgian squad for 2021, the Manxman has achieved some of his best results in years, including second places at the GP Monseré and the opening stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali. On Wednesday, he took third behind Alpecin-Fenix's Jasper Philipsen and teammate Sam Bennett in Schoten, and now heads to Turkey with the possibility of taking his first win since 2018.

Speaking in the aftermath of a Scheldeprijs finale which saw the dominant Deceuninck-QuickStep lead-out beaten by Alpecin-Fenix, team directeur sportif said that Cavendish's work in the 'sweeper' role behind Bennett was a pleasant surprise for the team.

While Bennett was boxed in during the final dash, Cavendish finished strongly, beating of Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos) at the finish.

"We added Mark to the selection at the last minute. We can't blame him – he was in the first group, after all, and he did exactly what we told him to do," Peeters told Het Laatste Nieuws.

"That pleasantly surprised us. The disappointment [at not winning] would be a lot bigger if we hadn't won anything yet this season. The fact is that we have to learn from it.

"But I want to end on a positive note. Cav is now really close to winning. In the Tour of Turkey? Of course, it will depend on little things, but yes it's possible."

Cavendish will be joined in Turkey by two of the team's other sprinters in Álvaro Hodeg and Fabio Jakobsen, the latter making his return to the peloton after a long rehabilitation process following his crash at the Tour de Pologne last August.

With four or five of the eight stages looking like possible sprint finishes, the Belgian team have given themselves every chance to add to their peloton-leading 14 wins so far in 2021. Lead-out man Shane Archbold is also part of the squad, along with Iljo Keisse and Stijn Steels.

"This year's Tour of Turkey puts on the table many stages which should end up in a bunch sprint and we look forward to those," team directeur sportif Rick Van Slycke said. "There will be some opportunity for our fast guys, who will rely on a strong team capable of controlling the race and delivering a solid lead-out.

"We are happy and excited to have Fabio back with the team. Of course, he was with us at the winter training camp, but now it’s different and we are glad to see that the progress he has made over the past months has brought him here, at the start of his first race since last August.

"It goes without saying that the most important thing for him will be to take it day by day, find his rhythm again and ease back into racing after the long break he had."

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