Mark Cavendish dedicates his victory to Wouter Weylandt as he pays tribute to his team
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mark Cavendish dedicates his victory to Wouter Weylandt as he pays tribute to his team

by Ben Atkins at 3:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
"It was 100 percent beautiful today, and not just the lead out”

mark cavendishMark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was effusively complimentary of his teammates after his victory in today’s sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia, between Mola di Bari and Margherita di Savoia after his lead out delivered him perfectly into the finishing straight. Things have not always run smoothly for the Belgian team at race finishes this season - with Cavendish having to win the Giro’s first stage virtually unsupported - but this time everything went to plan.

"I'm so happy right now, it was incredible," Cavendish said immediately after the victory. "The lead out was absolutely perfect, nothing went wrong, it was beautiful. I'm absolutely buzzing. Imagine you have a kit car, something you've built from the start as we have this year with the lead out. You start it, 'vroom vroom' and you know, you have some fears about it, all those things having been put together, about being able to start the engine. I'm just the last part, the exhaust, the last one that makes the most noise. But when it works! That's how you can win.”

Mindful that the stage occurred on the second anniversary of the tragic death of Belgian Wouter Weylandt - a childhood friend of teammate Iljo Keisse - Cavendish also paid tribute to the late rider. On the presentation podium afterwards, the Manxman held aloft the number '108', which Weylandt was wearing that day and has been retired by the race organisation in his memory.

“I also want to dedicate this win to Wouter Weylandt, who died tragically at the Giro two years ago," he said.

Cavendish’s stage victory came only after his team - along with help from the French FDJ team - pulled back the strong Australian duo of Jack Bobridge (Blanco) and Cameron Wurf (Cannondale). With neither rider any danger to race leader Luca Paolini (Katusha) in the general classification, it was down to the sprinters’ teams to do all of the work to reel them in.

"It was 100 percent beautiful today, and not just the lead out - from the beginning," said Cavendish. "Bobridge and Wurf were two strong guys to have in the breakaway today. We had Serge Pauwels and Gianluca Brambilla pulling from the beginning and we were going strong. Really, really well and they kept going until the last kilometres. Then Jérôme Pineau, Michal Golas, Iljo Keisse, and Matteo Trentin took over, and even Julien Vermote came up after getting dropped. He's a young guy and he really rode today.

“These guys rode until their legs couldn't go anymore,” Cavendish added. “It was really incredible to see that, and this is all before the lead out. I haven't seen riding like this in about a year.  Today made me so, so proud."

A crash in the middle of the bunch with 33km to go saw half the peloton - including Cavendish’s former teammate Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) - left behind. Both Omega Pharma-Quick Step and FDJ eased their pace to allow the dropped half rejoin, but it led to an edgy remainder to the stage.

"Then the lead out was very, very hectic," Cavendish explained. "With the crash it made everybody nervous. All the GC teams were there with even less than 3km to go, like BMC Racing Team and Sky, as well as the sprint teams. It was real, real chaos. I just tried to follow Gert Steegmans. He found my territory and then they timed it perfectly. There was always going to be a team that went too early with a headwind finish.

“My guys waited, waited, they were patient and they hit it at exactly the right time,’ he enthused. “They just went fast, fast, fast and they launched me perfectly and I was able to go to the line. I was really happy with it. Gert Steegmans showed today that when he's at his best, he's nearly the best lead out man there's ever been."


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