22-year-old Mark Cavendish triumphed in stage two of the Eneco Tour on Friday, with a spectacular bunch sprint victory in Knokke-Heist.
Cavendish (T-Mobile) comfortably outgunned American Fred Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto) with Belgium?s Wouter Weylandts (Qucik Step) in third place. Overall, Nick Nuyens of Belgium still leads.
?It was my eighth season win, and now I want to make it 11.? a delighted Cavendish – who crossed the line waving eight fingers in the air – said. ?Just like Alessandro Petacchi has managed to do.?
The Manxman admitted that with three kilometres to go, a couple of sticky corners on the fast, technical run-in to the coastal resort of Knokke-Heist had seen him ?lose about 100 places.?
?But then [team-mate Roger] Hammond got me back up to the front and gave me a great lead-out.?
?To tell the truth, when I?m in the top three with a couple of hundred metres to go, I don?t see many people out there can beat me.?
So it proved at Knokke-Heist, where a powerful drive up the left hand side of the finishing straight saw Cavendish come home almost a bike length ahead of Rodriguez.
Following his third ProTour win of the season, Cavendish said that he would be going for ?at least two more victories? in the Eneco Tour, but ?after doing the Tour of Britain, Paris-Tours is my big aim for the end of the year.?
This evening after the stage, Classics specialist Peter Van Petegem – riding the Eneco Tour for Quick Step – announced his retirement from the sport at the end of 2007. Van Petegem, 37, won Flanders twice and Paris-Roubaix once, as well as taking silver in the 1998 Worlds, bronze in 2003 and Het Volk no less than three times.