Driedaagse De Panne: Cavendish glowing about Omega Pharma Quick Step support received
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Driedaagse De Panne: Cavendish glowing about Omega Pharma Quick Step support received

by Shane Stokes at 7:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Stage two winner enthusiastic after latest success

Mark CavendishMoving his list of pro victories to the cusp of treble digits which his success today on stage two of the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, Mark Cavendish has made clear that his Omega Pharma Quick Step team played a major role in helping him hit the line first.

Speaking after the stage, where the British rider beat Elia Viviani (Cannondale), Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) and the rest of the front bunch to the line, he lauded his team-mates efforts, both in terms of helping him physically but also urging him on after early self-doubt.

“I didn't feel that great actually earlier on in the day,” he revealed. “We talked this morning about doing what we can to dig in for a bunch sprint. Halfway through I was like, 'I don't know if I can do it today.' I didn't feel great, but as the finish grew near we just kind of got to the front. It wasn't even spoken about. We were just doing it, like we were going for the sprint. Everyone stayed in the front and as you could see, the last lap was incredibly fast all together. The guys were in great form to not just do fast pulls, but really long pulls as well at the end. That just put me in position for the final corner.”

Cavendish said that he had planned to be two or three riders back heading out of the last corner, and that things went to plan in that regard. He explained that he was waiting for the right moment from the start of the final kilometre and that because of the wind, he wanted to wind things up gradually in order to overpower the other riders.

“I wanted to go at 450 meters, really. I felt the sprint going early on my left, so I had to kick out earlier than normal,” he said. “In a headwind if you kick out too hard you die out and riders come from behind. So I didn't go full gas. I just kept accelerating and accelerating as guys were coming through.”

Cavendish moved to the Omega Pharma Quick Step team after a year with Sky. The latter didn’t work out as well as he had hoped, primarily because the team was also focussed on the GC aspirations of riders such as Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, thus meaning he had less support in leadouts and in chasing down breaks.

In the Tour de France, for example, he said that he felt that he didn’t get as much support as he had expected, and that this possibly cost him a green jersey.

In order to secure a more dedicated backing for flatter stages in the Tour and in other races, Cavendish moved to the Omega Pharma Quick Step team over the winter. He reunited there with Brian Holm, a former pro who was a directeur sportif with the HTC Highroad team, and also with riders such as Tony Martin.

The partnership appears to have worked well for the Manxman, even if he was frustrated on a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico when he felt that he didn’t get the backing he needed to win the stage in question.

Today, though, there was no doubt in his mind that he got the right backing. “The team was phenomenal for me today,” he enthused. “Big pulls at the end and it was a hard finish. I'm really happy. The guys had to go long just because of the wind. We wanted to keep it lined out in that last big road, and then we had to use guys to try and get to the corner before the small road at 450 meters to go. Iljo [Keisse] and Niki [Terpstra] had to take some big, big pulls. But they were really strong and I am really proud of them.”

Cavendish also gave a big word of thanks to Tom Boonen, who dragged the bunch along in chasing the day’s moves, and also helped get his team-mate in to position. He described him as ‘one of the biggest stars who has ever been in cycling,’ and said that he considers Boonen to have a huge amount of faith in him.

“That's incredible. I spoke to Tom last night, and I said ‘it really means a lot that you're here.’ It's the first time we've raced to a final together this year, as at Gent-Wevelgem he crashed out,” he explained. “But seeing the confidence he had in me yesterday, and I mean all the guys as well, it's really nice. I spoke to them last night about that and you've seen the same again today. These guys are flying. It could be easy for them to take their own opportunity to win races here in Belgium. But they're committed to the new guy on the team and it means a lot to me.”


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