Victory in stage three of the Circuit Franco-Belge on Saturday has netted Mark Cavendish his season target of 11 wins for his first year as a professional.
In a bunch sprint at Poperinge, T-Mobile pro Cavendish outgunned Quick Step?s Gert Steegmans - winner of the stage on Friday ahead of Cavendish - and is now tied on time with the Belgian overall.
?I don?t know how much I beat him by, but it was a lot more than he beat me by on Friday,? Cavendish told CW.
Cavendish's 11th season win puts him one ahead of sprint legend Robbie McEwen?s total for his first year, although the Manx rider has said that he wanted to do better than the Australian ?out of respect for what Robbie?s acheived.?
Cavendish could not thank his T-Mobile team - which includes 20-year-old British stagiaire Ian Stannard - enough for the hard work they did keeping the race under control in cross-winds and and then setting things up for him in the technical run-in in a stage nearly 200 kilometres long.
?They all did a really great job the whole day, and [team-mate] Roger [Hammond] was there - as usual - keeping me up to the front from two kilometres to go.?
With one stage to go, and with only Steegmans ahead of him, Cavendish does not rule out taking the race overall.
"I'm much stronger than this time last year, when I got dropped on the last day of Franco Belge on the same last stage after working for my team leaders. This time it?s a different story.?
Circuit Franco Belge stage three Bray-Dunes - Poperinge 194.6 km
1 Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) T-Mobile 4-43-52
2 Geert Steegmans (Belgium) Quick Step
3 Robbie McEwen (Australia) Predictor-Lotto
4 Sebastian Hinault (France) Credit Agricole
5 Aurelien Clerc (Switzerland) Bouygues Telecom
23 Steve Cummings (Discovery Channel)
27 Dan Lloyd (DFL)
40 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) all st
155 Ian Stannard (T-Mobile) at 7-47
Overall after three stages
1 Geert Steegmans (Belgium) Quick Step 13-22-10
2 Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) T-Mobile at st
3 Aurelien Clerc (Switzerland) Bouygues Telecom at 6sec
4 Mark Renshaw (Australia) Credit Agricole at 7sec
5 Marco Marcato (Italy) LPR at st
30 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) at 16sec
58 Daniel Lloyd (DFL) at st
62 Steve Cummings (Discovery) at st
156 Ian Stannard (T-Mobile) at 12-51
Stage two: Cavendish second in Franco-Belge sprint
Stage one: Cav's crash woe at Franco-Belge
Cavendish wants 11th win at Franco-Belge
Cavendish takes tenth win in Southampton
Cavendish wins Tour of Britain prologue
Cavendish wins Scheldeprijs
Official event website: circuitfrancobelge.lunarpark.be
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