‘Felt like a pure bike racer again’ - Mark Cavendish delighted to race again with Deceuninck - Quick-Step, despite mechanical

The Belgian squad faced misfortune in Spain but still emerged with a podium 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish may have missed out on the chance to fight for victory in the Clásica de Almería, but the British sprinter still shared his delight after re-joining Deceuninck - Quick-Step.

Cavendish, 35, made his 2021 debut with his old team in the Spanish one-day race on Sunday (February 14), with fortunes turning against Deceuninck in the final. 

The tides turned against the Belgian WorldTour squad in the last 20km when their chosen sprinter Alvaro Hodeg was brought down in a pile-up and was forced to abandon the race, with Cavendish then stepping in to take up the sprint. 

But just minutes after Hodeg abandoned, Cavendish was taken out of contention due to a puncture on the final lap in Roquetas del Mar.

In true Deceuninck fashion, Frenchman Florian Sénéchal was quickly able to jump into the leader’s position and sprinted to an impressive second-place finish behind winner Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos). 

In an Instagram post, shared the day after the race, Cavendish said: “First race back with The Wolfpack was bittersweet. We had two options for the sprint and both of us were out within 1km of each other just 15km from the finish.

“I punctured, but I can only count myself fortunate compared to Alvaro Hodeg's crash. He's banged up but will be okay.

“But it just shows the strength of Deceuninck - Quick-Step that Florian Sénéchal thought quick to take up the sprint, getting a nice podium in 2nd spot.

“What an absolute dream to be back racing with these boys. Felt like a pure bike racer again. Loved every single moment. 

“Congratulations to Giacomo Nizzolo, so strong my friend.”

Cavendish tried to chase back on after his puncture, but eventually finished 1-36 down on the leaders in 94th place.

Sénéchal said: “It wasn’t planned that I would do the sprint today, as normally I should have been the last guy in Alvaro’s train. 

“Then Mark too had that problem, so from that moment on it was me who was going to do the sprint. I wasn’t too sure of myself, as I had already lost some energy controlling the race and protecting Alvaro, but I could still produce a good turn of speed and take an unexpected second.”

Cavendish has returned to Patrick Lefevere’s team for 2021, having race with the squad between 2013 and 2015.

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His next scheduled race is the sprinter’s Classic Scheldeprijs in April. 

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.