Mark Cavendish relied on Geraint Thomas today in Herning, Denmark, to deliver him to his first Grand Tour stage win since joining Sky. Thomas pulled off Peter Kennaugh’s wheel and led Cavendish to win the second leg of the 2012 Giro d’Italia ahead of Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge).
“They did a great job, a lot of credit to all the team,” team manager, David Brailsford told Cycling Weekly. “In particular, Mark will be proud of Geraint and the work he did in the final two to two and a half K – that was pretty impressive. Over time, if that partnership develops, that’s going to be an exciting prospect.”
Thomas and Kennaugh both raced at the track World Championships in Melbourne last month. They were part of the four-man team that won the team pursuit. Together with Cavendish, they have a close relationship as they passed through the British Academy together as amateurs.
Cavendish was only able to race professionally with them starting this year, when he joined Sky from team HTC-Highroad. With HTC, Cavendish typically was unable to win the first sprint stage in a Grand Tour. The only time he did so, was at the 2009 Tour de France.
“It wasn’t lost on us, we wanted to come here and hit it on the first days,” continued Brailsford. “The guys, especially the British guys who were on the academy together, were really excited about this, they’ve been taking about it for weeks. They just want to get stuck in and involved.”
Cavendish was encouraged by the first win. He said before the start of the race that there are about six possible sprint stages. Now, with one, the first available, he’s in a good position to score more wins.
“I’ve won now five times this year, it’s good for my [Worlds rainbow] jersey and in a new team,” Cavendish said in the press conference. “I never win the first sprint stage, I’ve never won the first sprint at the Giro. I’d like to carry on like this.”
The secret? According to Brailsford, it’s teaming Cavendish with his old Academy mate, Thomas. He’ll help Cavendish as much as possible in the Giro and afterwards skip the Tour de France to focus on the London Olympics.
“Geraint has such a turn of speed, and it’s progressive. And he’s so good at positioning,” Brailsford said. “I’m confident over time you’re going to see that partnership develop and it’s going to be impressive. A match made in heaven.”
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