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Vernon follows in Cavendish's wheel tracks with first win in Volta a Catalunya

VILANOVA I LA GELTRU SPAIN MARCH 25 Ethan Vernon of United Kingdom and Team QuickStep Alpha Vinyl celebrates at finish line as stage winner during the 101st Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2022 Stage 5 a 2063km stage from La Pobla de Segur to Vilanova i la Geltr VoltaCatalunya101 WorldTour on March 25 2022 in Vilanova i la Geltru Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images
Ethan Vernon wins at Volta a Catalunya (Image credit: Getty Images)

15 years after Mark Cavendish secured his first WorldTour victory at the 2007 Volta a Catalunya, his young British teammate and fellow sprinter Ethan Vernon (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) echoed the Manxman’s early success with his first win of his career

A professional for just three months, Vernon beat experienced sprinter Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) who was recently a winner of a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico.

Vernon proved to be the fastest in Vilanova i la Geltrú, despite a frantic chase after the race split apart at a late intermediate sprint and a crash involving his own teammate Ilian van Wilder in the last kilometre.

After several wins in lower-category races like the Four Days of Dunkerque and the prestigious Scheldeprijs, Cavendish took two stage wins in the 2007 Volta a Catalunya, the second, like Vernon’s win on Friday, coming immediately after the race had completed two tough days in the Pyrenees.

Asked by Cyclingnews if Cavendish early success in Catalunya made his own breakthrough win feel more special, Vernon replied “definitely” with a grin.

“He’s been a role model of mine since I started the sport, I’ve been lucky enough to share a room with him through the winter at training camp and he’s been great with me. Hopefully I’ll follow a similar career to his, so I’m pretty happy with that.”

Fourth in the previous bunch sprint at Perpignan on Tuesday, Vernon said that he and the team had rectified the errors of the previous mass dash for the line.

“We weren’t too far off then but I realised where I went wrong and tried to correct that today. It was quite twisty at the end and the lads had to bring me back after the intermediate sprint and get me back in contention. I wouldn’t have won without my teammates.

“There was a crash in the last kilometre, but luckily I got round that. I was on my own, surfing wheels, but I found a good wheel with 500 metres to go and I went on from there.”

After the Volta a Catalunya, Vernon says his full race programme for 2022 is yet to be decided but his next event will be the Circuite de la Sarthe in France.

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.