‘We committed against the odds’: Mark Cavendish leads Coppi e Bartali stage race after first day 

The first time Cavendish has led a stage race since 2017

(Image credit: Imago/PA Images)

Mark Cavendish said his team “committed against the odds” put to him into the lead of the Coppi e Bartali stage race in Italy.

The British sprinter narrowly missed out in the opening sprint stage on day one, finishing second behind Jakub Mareczko (Vini Zabú), before the team time trial in the afternoon for stage 1b. 

While Cavendish’s Deceuninck - Quick-Step squad narrowly missed out on victory once again in the TTT, but the Belgian squad did enough to put their sprinter into the overall lead.

Speaking after the finish of the TTT, Cavendish said: “Two podiums in a day and the leader’s jersey here, it’s not too bad. 

“Though we just missed the wins, I am extremely proud of our five-man group here. The lads looked after me in the morning and I was disappointed not to repay their hard work with a victory. 

“But then, in the afternoon, we committed against the odds in the team time trial. I couldn’t be happier to at least get to lead the race after day one, especially as it’s the first time in four years that I lead a stage race. Now some hilly stages await and we’re motivated to work hard for our GC guys”  

After Cavendish finished second in the bunch sprint on stage 1a in Gatteo, Deceuninck - Quick-Step then went third fastest in the TTT, just two seconds slower than stage winners Israel Start-Up Nation.  

Heading into stage two,  Cavendish leads the race just two seconds ahead of fellow Brit Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation). 

Deceuninck - Quick-Step is competing in Italy with just five riders, compared to the seven riders of most other teams. 

>>> ‘It’s impossible to say’: Chris Froome unsure of when he’ll be ready to fight for GC in races again 

While Cavendish is unlikely to defend the jersey on stage two, a tough climbing day with an uphill finish, the 35-year-old is relishing his first leader’s jersey since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour, where he won the opening stage.  

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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.