Mark Cavendish praised a perfectly-executed strategy from his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mates after sprinting to win stage seven of the Tour of Britain in Guildford this afternoon.
Cavendish took the victory on the Surrey town’s cobbled, ramping High Street for the second year in succession, but was run close by Cannondale’s Elia Viviani as he neared the line.
The win, the British road race champion’s second of this year’s race, came at the end of a day in which his team controlled proceedings at the front of the peloton throughout.
“If we could have deviated even a millimetre from what we planned to do today we haven’t done that,” said Cavendish.
“We knew we wanted a sprint and Sky were happy to have a sprint because they had help to control it today. We tried to get a break going without too many people in it, and the lads rode incredibly.
“Martin Velits and Julien Vermote were riding the whole day, right up to the last four k. Michal Golas took over, did more than a kilometre, Iljo Keisse took over, did more than a kilometre, Alessandro [Petacchi] went at the right time, with 700 metres to go, and delivered me perfectly.”
Cavendish admitted he started his sprint early – some 350 metres from the line – and was forced to accelerate again late on as Viviani closed in on him.
He said: “I remember going just before the cobbles last year, and I remember thinking it was the best thing to do.
“We watched last year’s finish and I told Ale to go before the last corner and that I’d go with him. It was long, but it was OK.
“Elia was coming fast, I had to kick again, that takes a lot of energy out of you but I’ll be alright for tomorrow.”
The Manxman won the last time the Tour of Britain in London two years ago, and is the favourite to take his 10th victory in the race in Whitehall tomorrow afternoon.