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Giro d’Italia: Cavendish Wins Stage 1

OPQS
Giro d’Italia: Cavendish Wins Stage 1
Manx Missile in Pink After his 8th Win of the Season
04-May-2013: Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Mark Cavendish is in the Maglia Rosa after an aggressive final of the 130km Stage 1 of Giro d’Italia on Saturday. The Manx Missile was able to close a gap to Cannondale, Orica-GreenEDGE and Radioshack, launch on the right side, and beat Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) to the line for the opening stage victory in Napoli.OPQS did a tremendous job for the entire race protecting their leader, chasing down a lone rider — Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) — with a little more than 18km remaining in the stage that featured two circuits. As the peloton began to establish sprint position in the second, shorter 8km eight-lap circuit, five OPQS riders remained at the front for Cavendish. The tempo was set so high that the peloton split. The front group split even more in the final few kilometers, as a crash behind the front left only a few teams with leadouts left to contest the sprint finale.

Gert Steegmans was the final leadout man for Cavendish, but a mechanical caused a setback in his efforts. Cavendish still managed to work his way into close enough position for a win — and his speed, from a few riders back in the sprint, was simply unmatchable.

This is the 25th victory for OPQS, in three disciplines. Cavendish has also won eight races in 2013.

“It was a difficult stage for me, with all the corners and accelerations it was almost like a criterium race or something,” Cavendish said. “The team did an incredible job to stay in the front. Things didn’t go quite so perfect in the end, with Steegmans getting a mechanical problem in the final kilometer, but I made the best of it. I had to catch the GreenEDGE train and that took a lot of energy. Sprinters are ones who can really sprint in the red zone, and I was in the red for most of that. It was really hot out there, but I wanted it so bad. The team worked so hard for me all day, and after the Classics not quite going as planned we wanted to really start getting things right. I’m happy we could win this first stage.”

Jerome Pineau and Steegmans crashed, but without physical consequence while working at the front for Cavendish with about 40kms to go.

“Just because it’s not a big line in the last kilometer doesn’t mean that the team hasn’t done everything to get me there,” Cavendish continued about the work of the team going into the sprint finale. “You would have seen a mastermind from Gert had he not had yet another mechanical this year. He did an incredible job to lead me up in the last kilometers, got on the right wheel and then unfortunately had a mechanical problem. Sure I had to close a gap in the last kilometer but had he not had a complication, you would have seen him lead me to the front and then in the final. So I’m really happy how it went, as the guys rode all day on the front. It’s not easy to sit on the front when you’ve got guys surging and there’s a sprint for every corner. It’s like a series of efforts. It’s not easy to sprint for every corner, brake, accelerate. It’s not easy and the team did that all day before dropping me off at the end. I’m lucky I’ve got the speed to be able to come back like that in the final. I’m really happy today.”

Cavendish also made a bit of a promise with Paul Smith, designer of the 2013 Giro d’Italia Maglia Rosa.

“He said ‘I’m coming to Napoli, but you’ve got to promise you’ll win the jersey for me,'” Cavendish said of his conversation with Smith before the Giro. “I told him I’ll try my best and see what happens. I’m super happy, he’s a great friend of mine. He’s always a supporter whether things are going good or bad. You can see he just loves it. He loves cycling, and he did some laps in the team car today. I’m so happy he’s here. He’s a really great man. What he’s done to design the jersey for the Giro is really incredible. I’m happy to wear it, for him and the team.”

As for the next goals, Cavendish said that the set up of the Giro this year makes the goal of the Red Jersey a particularly difficult task for pure sprinters. He said his bigger goal is victories in the few remaining flat stages that favor the bunch sprints. Also, he noted that the Stage 2, 17.4km TTT will not be as easy as it may seem with a team that won the UCI TTT World Championship in 2012. Still, OPQS will do what it can with a strong bunch of riders.

“We had a more specialist TTT group in Tirreno-Adriatico,” Cavendish said. “We had Tony Martin there, who did about 15km of the 18km on the front. So, it’s a little difficult without a guy like him, but we will do our best. The TTT is a lot more about commitment from the riders and you saw today that we’ve got that. So, we’re going to do everything to keep the Maglia Rosa and have respect for the jersey. We also have respect for each other. We want to try and succeed.”

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Image credits
040513 OPQS Giro stage 1 – Cavendish finish (c)Tim De Waele.JPG – OPQS/Tim de Waele
040513 OPQS Giro stage 1-Cavendish podium (c)Tim De Waele.jpg – OPQS/Tim de Waele

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