Mark Cavendish says he “should have reacted sooner” in the sprint finish of Scheldeprijs 2021, as Jasper Philipsen got the drop on Deceuninck - Quick-Step.
After a brutal day of racing in Belgium, Belgian WorldTour squad Deceuninck looked nailed on to take victory with their sprinter Sam Bennett, but it was Alpecin-Fenix rider Philipsen who denied the pre-race favourite at the line.
Cavendish, who finished in third behind Philipsen and Bennett, said after the race that he should have reacted faster and chased Philipsen himself.
As reported by cycling website Wielerflits, Cavendish said: “It was always the intention to race for Sam.
“We had numbers in the final, but things turned out wrong.
“When Philipsen passed by I stepped aside to let Sam pass, but in retrospect I should have reacted faster by going with Philipsen and sprinting myself. I should have responded better to the situation.”
While the result was a disappointment for Patrick Lefevere’s Deceuninck - Quick-Step squad, the finish was another confidence boost for Cavendish, who took his third podium place of the year and a record-equalling sixth career podium in Scheldeprijs.
Speaking after the finish, Bennett admitted his team were “maybe one rider short in the final.”
Deceuninck sports director Tom Steels added: “It wasn’t an easy race and the first 75 kilometres went really fast, as the peloton travelled at more than 50km/h. We had riders in the first two groups and once it came back together, we took responsibility and Florian [Sénéchal] and Bert [Van Lerberghe] did a tremendous job, making sure it would come down to a sprint. At the end of the day, one rider was faster, so we don’t have any regrets, although we have preferred to take the win."
Cavendish is on a one-year contract with Deceuninck as he chases an elusive sprint victory.
Next up for the Manxman is the Tour of Turkey, alongside Fabio Jakobsen, who will be making his comeback after an awful crash in last year’s Tour of Poland.
Cavendish said: “I feel good and I feel so happy in the team. It’s only that victory I’m still missing. Patrick Lefevere will not rest until I have it. I have to do it especially for him.”
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