28-Apr-2014: Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling team sprinter Mark Cavendish was delivered to the line perfectly by his teammates in the 174.2km Tour of Turkey Stage 2 on Monday.
OPQS spent the day on the front helping to chase down a five-rider breakaway that was eventually down to four. The catch was made with 16km to go, and the team then ensured Cavendish, in the leader’s jersey after also winning Stage 1, was in ideal position should the stage come down to the predicted group finale.
With 5km to go, OPQS had five riders lined up for the British Champion on the left side of the peloton. The team never lost their position, even negotiating a left turn perfectly to put themselves even further in front for the Manx Missile with less than 2km to go. Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Renshaw were then left with the responsibility of dropping off Cavendish for the sprint. Both did excellent work to launch him, and he went on to win over Francesco Chicchi (Neri Sottoli) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida).
OPQS now has 26 victories, in three disciplines, in 2014. Cavendish has won four bunch sprints this year so far. Tour of Turkey Stage 3 will be the first opportunity for the climbers. The stage includes a summit finish in Elmali.
“The wind was stronger than we thought and different to what we imagined as well,” Cavendish said of the sprint. “Headwind in the final two kilometers. We were pretty much going to be on target if there was a crosswind, but it ended up the wind changed direction. But the guys adapted well. The guys rode incredible today. We had Kevin De Weert riding all day, and then he took it up with 10 kilometers to go. Petr Vakoc was behind him and then he went. Then Gianni Meersman did like two kilometers on the front. In the last five kilometers, for two kilometers you’ve got to be going. Gianni did it, and Iljo Keisse then took it up around a corner. To me, normally we should be OK there, but with a headwind we ended up being low on guys so they were doing a little bit longer than they wanted. Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Renshaw should only be doing about 300 or 400 at the end, but they did about 600 each. But in the end it was perfect. They delivered me perfectly to the line. I did have to go full gas, I didn’t know what would happen with the headwind. You’re riding slightly uphill in that kind of situation. Maybe I should have rode in the 12 instead of the 11. I didn’t feel under pressure but at the end of the day in a headwind, you’re always going to be. Unless you start next to people, then you can kind of tactically ride technical with the sprint. But when you start ahead with your leadout, you can’t do that. You just have to go full gas and hope no one closes. But no one did. I’m happy we could get another stage here at Tour of Turkey and I’m thankful I could finish the work of the guys again today.”