Mark Cavendish needed a win to get him going in the right direction again, according to Omega Pharma-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere. The Three Days of De Panne victory in stage two yesterday was his first since winning in the Tour of Qatar.
“Finally he could win, it was since the Tour of Qatar,” Lefevere told Cycling Weekly. “It’s a good thing because a sprinter needs to win, for a sprinter it’s the best motivation.”
Cavendish won four stages and the overall of the Tour of Qatar last month. Since then, Mother Nature played her hand or Cavendish just fell short.
The two rain-soaked Tirreno-Adriatico stages did not go Cavendish’s way. In the first one, Cavendish became upset with his lead-out train for misjudging the run-in. He said, “I know they can do better.” In the second one, after a couple of climbs, rising star Peter Sagan (Cannondale) got the better of him.
Snow forced the cancellation of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, a traditional sprinters’ race at the end of February.
“It didn’t work in Tirreno, Kuurne was cancelled, Sanremo was good, but he unfortunately was not in the first group,” Lefevere continued.
“He stayed calm. I didn’t see him nervous after [stage one], he understood the final was too hard with too many attacks. The team had to make a choice, Niki Terpstra and Sylvain Chavanel was in the front, but they didn’t ride because they wanted to help Mark, but the bunch didn’t come back. Stage two is more of a sprint stage, where 9 times out of 10 it goes that way.”
Cavendish said yesterday that the team was not working for a sprint in stage one, contradicting what Lefevere’s description.
The sprint lead-out was not without its flaws. The team started a little too early, which produced a lull two kilometres out. Cavendish and team-mates, Iljo Keisse and Terpstra, shot ahead with Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), but eased off.
“Maybe [the lead-out] wasn’t perfect,” Lefevere added.
“[Cavendish] had to purposely drop back because the sprint was in a headwind. He ended up doing a perfect job.”
The win was just the motivation Cavendish needed, according to Lefevere.
Cavendish is favoured to win this morning’s stage in De Panne. The races also provide good team practice for the Belgian one-day classic, Scheldeprijs, where he already won three times.