Photo finish puts Mark Cavendish second at Belgium one-day race as upward trajectory continues

The Manxman finished a tyre width behind Tim Merlier at Elfstedenronde

Mark Cavendish
(Image credit: Getty)

It took a photo finish to deny Mark Cavendish the victory at the Belgian one-day race Elfstedenronde, and although the Manxman says he knew he was second before the digital assistance, it's another sign that his form is very much back.

"When I crossed the finish line I knew I was second. But you never know. In Turkey I also won a stage when I thought I was actually second," Cavendish told broadcaster Sporza, having finished behind Alpecin-Fenix's Tim Merlier.

Cavendish finished ahead of the likes of Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) as he continues to improve during his first year back with Deceuninck - Quick-Step.

"The finish line was approaching faster than I was approaching Merlier," he continued. "This is Tim's 6th win of the year. He is currently the best sprinter there is," to which we're sure Cavendish's team-mate Sam Bennett (who also has six wins this year) and Lotto-Soudal's Caleb Ewan would have something to say.

"[Although] I'm glad I'm in the photo finish and Tim didn't arrive 10 meters in front of me."

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As Cavendish's form appears to have sharpened, his tongue has followed suit, saying he's now moved up to riding in the 'A-team' instead of in the 'C-team', which he had done up until this point.

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"I've been in the C-team of Deceuninck-Quick Step all year. But today I was in the A-team," Cavendish said.

"With guys like Ballerini, Lampaert and Mørkøv you take control of the race. A dream. It was an honour that Evenepoel was leading the pack for me."

As for what's next, team boss Patrick Lefevere has provided conflicting quotes in various interviews as to whether the sprinter has a chance of going to the Tour de France, and that a meeting with the Belgian will soon make things clearer

"I don't know yet. I am now on 25 competition days, in which I finished 12 times in the top 4. I was on the podium nine times. We did not immediately expect that," Cavendish explained.

"Soon I will be together with Patrick Lefevere. We will then see what the plans are in the short or long term."

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.