Mark Cavendish returned to his winning ways and entertaining self today in the Three Days of De Panne. With Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s muscle – including Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel – he sprinted into Koksijde on the Belgian coast.
“It’s nice, it’s one of the biggest starts in cycling, he’s one of the guys who has the most faith in me. I talked to Tom last night, I said it means it means a lot,” Cavendish said in a press conference.
“Seeing the confidence he had in me yesterday, that was really nice. I told the guys last night thanks. You saw it again today. These guys are flying, they have their chances to win on their own, but they are committing for the new man on the team, it really makes me proud.”
Cavendish, who now has seven wins this season, chatted in the pressroom just metres from the finish line. The sun shined, but the wind blew a cold breeze. Cavendish appeared nervous, but he was actually cold.
“Can we stand away from the door because I’m f***ing freezing!” Cavendish said to on-lookers who were holding the door to the press room open.
Back to the win
The Orica-GreenEdge led peloton caught the escape and OmegaPharma took over. Boonen, who is building for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, led the pack for Cavendish. Chavanel, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Iljo Keisse and Niki Terpstra also took turns.
“I forgot what I was saying,” Cavendish continued with the door shut.
“If we looked on paper, it was probably the reverse of what we wanted, but I had the commitment from the guys. I’m so happy. The commitment from all the guys. Some people thought we were trying to ride for a sprint yesterday, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, we weren’t riding for that, yesterday’s stage was never going to finish in a bunch sprint.
“We weren’t riding for a sprint, we were riding for our GC guys. I was there to help the guys and I’m happy they were there to help me today.”
A cold breeze blew through the room.
“Please stand away from the door!” Cavendish said, raising his voice. “Stand away from the door. For the fifth, sixth, seventh time!”
Cavendish, as quick as his sprint, regained his composure and continued. He talked about 2008 and 2009, when he also won the second stage. Those years, he went on to win the morning stage of the third and final day as well.
“It’s the first win for QuickStep in Belgium. I’m happy for it. With Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne cancelled, and Ghent-Wevelgem didn’t go as planned. It’s really nice to get a win here,” he added.
“We still want more, we have another day, we want the GC. The last time I won two stages, the time before, two stages, we’ll see how it goes this time. I’m getting too old for these sprint things!”
Cavendish left with the team’s press officer. The journalists had a laugh. No one can match Cavendish’s speed and for sure, no one can entertain like Cavendish.