After losing out in Saturday's Het Nieuwsblad, there were no mistakes for Etixx-QuickStep in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) restored his team’s pride by sprinting to his sixth win of the season at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday.

Twenty-four hours after the Belgian squad were humiliated at Het Nieuwsblad – placing three men in the decisive move but failing to stop Ian Stannard (Team Sky) from winning – Cavendish proved as reliable as ever, taking the bunch sprint ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Elia Viviani (Sky).

It was Kristoff’s team who had taken over in the closing stages and Cavendish’s win seemed to come without a lead-out train, but he wasn’t in the mood to be critical of his team afterwards – not the riders, at least.

“I had no lead-out but the team was incredible the whole day,” Cavendish told Sporza. “We talked this morning and I think that [Etixx sports director] Wilfried Peeters didn’t think I could make it [to the finish]. At least the riders all believed in me.”

Cavendish didn’t only survive the climbs that came in the second half of the race: he was part of the leading group of 20 that went clear up the Oude Kwaremont, and which included four Etixx teammates. It seemed as though it might stay away, but MTN-Qhubeka led the chase and the race came back together.

Mark Cavendish on the podium after winning the 2015 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

Mark Cavendish on the podium after winning the 2015 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

“I’m super happy to win in Kuurne – that’s two times I’ve won it now – and especially after the … unfortunate incident yesterday,” said Cavendish. “It was nice for Etixx-QuickStep to get a win on the opening weekend.

“The lads all committed 100 percent to me all day. They were looking after me.”

Asked whether his ability to follow the top riders up the Kwaremont was testimony to his climbing ability, Cavendish responded: “I’m not a bad bike rider, to be fair. And I’m in by far the strongest team. We had five there, which shows the strength in depth. You saw it yesterday. There was a bit of a f*** up at the end, but you saw the strength of the team.

“To have everyone commit 100 percent to the sprint was great,” Cavendish continued. “Tom said on the bus this morning, ‘I’ll lead out Cav.’”

Ahead of Milan-San Remo, it was also a morale-boosting victory over last year’s winner, Kristoff. While the Norwegian, who raced on Saturday, complained of having “sore legs all day,” and claimed that Cavendish was “maybe fresher,” Cavendish said: “I’m happy to beat Kristoff, one of the best riders in the world right now. I’m happy to win in the first showing against him this year.”

  • Simon E

    Thanks Janet. I’m not surprised at this 🙁

    A team manager is not necessarily a fan of the sport. He may not be *totally* focussed on money but, rightly or wrongly, it is often a huge factor in many decisions.

    Either way, it’s great to see Mark winning races.

  • Janet Mozelewski

    Peeters has form for this. At Milan San Remo …the weather affected one in 2013….Cav hung in there and was going very well but Peeters didn’t have any faith in him and backed Chavanel. Cav afterwards said he feels he lost a good chance because of it. Peeters is by far the weakest of the EQS DS’s. He is a throwback to their tradition of being Classics (and more particularly classics rider) centric team. He seems obsessed with Tom Boonen.
    Lefevere is odd. He says rather peculiar things and seems to specialize in killing a good vibe. (His comments about Cav’s contract a week or so ago being a stark case in point.) He doesn’t come over as a sportsman in his attitude but a money man pure and simple. Which is fair enough but he makes a fool of himself. Some of his comments (I speak French) suggest he is so consumed with not having to pay Cav a big contract again he’s ambivalent about him winning.

  • dourscot

    Even if they’d won both races, Lefevere would find something to be annoyed about.

  • dourscot

    Why on earth did Peeters think Cav couldn’t get to the end of the race?

    He’s won it before, he’s in form and he’s the sprinter with by far the biggest palmares in the race. Bizarre team.

  • Dabber

    Lefevere still doesn’t seem over happy about the weekend even with Cav’s win today.