British sprinter Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) won the Criterium Herentals in Belgium last night (Thursday).

Cavendish beat Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen to the line in the traditional post-Tour de France showcase event. This is on the back of Cavendish’s win at the Peer Criterium the night before, where he beat Boonen’s team-mate Gert Steegmans in the final sprint.

The results of such crits are, let’s say, often open to interpretation – riders are there to please the usually large crowds who have turned out to see their cycling heroes in the flesh. Racing is fast, but usually friendly.

Cavendish’s star value rocketed after winning two stages of the 2008 Giro d’Italia and four at the 2008 Tour de France. He is already a very popular figure in Belgium, and the fact that he has won both of these two high profile post-Tour crits will have boosted his profile even more – as you can see from the Herentals photos below.

Cavendish’s next stop is Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, where he will take part in the Madison and possibly individual pursuit events for Team Great Britain.

CRITERIUM HERENTALS 2008: RESULT
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia

2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 1sec
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux at same time.

imageStar of the show: Mr Mark Cavendish

imageBig crowds turn out in Herentals

imageSigning autographs for the fans

imageimageCriterium Herentals in full flow

imageTom Boonen leads Cavendish

imageCavendish comes through

imageThe Belgian Duffield?

imageHerentals 2008 podium (l-r): Tom Boonen (second), Mark Cavendish (winner), Philippe Gilbert (third)

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