Mark Cavendish has said he didn't expect to take four stage wins at the Tour of Turkey, capping off a remarkable comeback week with the final stage win, forcing Alpecin-Fenix's Jasper Philipsen into second place for the fourth time this week.
"I'm very happy with this," Cavendish said after the race. "Four victories are much more than I expected prior to this Tour of Turkey."
As the Manxman tried to get back to winning ways over the past year, he could often be spotted at the pointy end, present just before the bunch sprint was about to unfurl, then getting lost in the chaos, not contesting the victory. But this week Cavendish showed his guile is back, surfing the wheels, positioning himself well, before surging forward to take the sprint victory.
"In the run-up to the sprint, I chose the Israel Start-Up Nation train, because I saw that they were in the front with several riders," Cavendish explained. "In the end, Uno-X came out hard and I moved with them. I was in a good position from the front and that all went well.
"Today was harder than we imagined it was going to be, as we had different races within the race for all the various classifications. The stage was full gas from the beginning and it went like this for more than 100 kilometres, until a break finally got away. We had Stijn Steels there, while I could rely on the likes of Iljo Keisse, Fabio Jakobsen and Shane Archbold when we came to the crucial point of the stage, that nasty classified climb with twenty kilometers to go.
"Having them by my side allowed me to keep enough energy for the final kilometers of the stage where it was really messy again, but fortunately a gap opened just as I started my sprint and I could beat Philipsen on the line. I’m happy to get my fourth stage win here, it feels really great."
To top it off, Cavendish's fourth stage victory was also his 150th career victory, his third having helped Deceuninck - Quick-Step to their 800th win.
"We had an amazing week, we really enjoyed ourselves and taking my 150th pro victory as part of this incredible team is just the cherry on the cake," he said.
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1