Mark Cavendish claimed a third consecutive victory in the Tour of Turkey, avoiding a huge crash in the sprint finish.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider Cavendish was perfectly positioned in the final once again during the pan-flat stage four, holding his sprint until the final 200 metres.
Cavendish launched his sprint in pursuit of Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), catching the Belgian’s wheel 100m from the line and surging past to take his third win of the eight-stage race.
The 35-year-old leads the Tour of Turkey with a 12-second advantage over Philipsen.
After previously saying his confidence is growing following his first two wins in Turkey this week, Cavendish went into stage four as the overall leader with full support from his team.
Raced over 184km from Alanya to Kemer, the day looked like another opportunity for the sprinters, with Philipsen and André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) both hoping to combat Cavendish’s return to glowing form.
The day’s three-rider breakaway were swept up early with 20km still to race, as the sprint trains turned their attention to the fast finish.
Cavendish and Deceuninck stayed away from the front of the bunch until 3km to go when they pulled their sprinter to the front and maintained position into the last kilometre.
Into the closing metres and it was Alpecin-Fenix who led the bunch for Philipsen, with Cavendish close behind ready to chase.
Philipsen then found himself on the front too early, with just over 200m to go, forcing him to sprint while looking over his shoulder for Cavendish.
Behind the frontrunners, a number of riders came together causing a huge crash that sent riders right a cross the road and into the barriers, completely blocking the rest of the peloton.
Meanwhile Cavendish surged up to Philipsen’s wheel and powered past with his head low in trademark style, taking yet another victory and cementing his dominance in the 2021 Tour of Turkey.
Cavendish is on a one-year contract with Deceuninck – Quick-Step after fearing the premature end to his career last season as he struggled to find a new team.
The winner of 30 Tour de France stages said he wanted to win at least one race this season, but he has proven his comeback is complete by winning three this season.
Before the Tour of Turkey, Cavendish’s last victory was over three years ago, in the 2018 Dubai Tour.