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by Shane Stokes
April 28, 2015
Notching up his eighth win of the year, Mark Cavendish defended his race lead in style when he was first to the line at the end of stage two of the Presidential Tour of Turkey on Monday.
The Etixx-QuickStep rider beat the Italian pair of Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF), while Juan Sebastian Molano (Team Colombia) and Daniele Colli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) were just off the podium in fourth and fifth.
Cavendish retains his turquoise jersey and solidifies his lead in the points classification, while Modolo leapfrogs Ruffoni into third.
Caleb Ewan, who was second yesterday, slips from second to 54th after he rolled in towards the back of the bunch. His team had done a considerable amount of work but things unravelled in the final kilometres, leading to him being out of position.
In the post race press conference Cavendish confirmed that he was sprinting on a softening tire, and that at one point he had thought he would miss out on taking part in the gallop.
“We went around a corner and my wheel went from me with five kilometres to go,” he said. “I thought, ‘that’s not good.’ I had a little bounce. It wasn’t totally flat but it was really spongy.”
“I thought about stopping but then we were already on our third guy in the train. If I stop, we are one man short for Renshaw anyway. So I thought I’d give it a crack. I went easy around the last two corners and then I went for it.
“I had confidence in my team. If they kept me up the front on the corners, then I was always going to be okay and they did just that. They were super strong today, actually. They were really formidable…I was super impressed.”
Leadout man Mark Renshaw also had complications in the run up to the sprint, being forced to stop with 17 kilometres to go due to a softening tyre.
He was able to quickly rejoin and did very important work in setting Cavendish up.
“The guys controlled it really well in the final. We always held the good side of the road, out of the wind. We just got caught a little bit by the jump,” he told CyclingTips at the finish line. “I think it was Lampre. I had to go a little bit early. I think Cav did a nice sprint, a good 200 metres long. It was a good victory.
“It is good motivation, good signs for what is to come.”
Cavendish gave kudos to his team-mate for his effort. “They passed us and so Renshaw had to go a lot earlier than he did yesterday. Then he was fading. I was trying hang on until they went before I go, but he was losing speed. I really kept going. Renshaw had to do a lot longer [than usual].
Despite that, there were no problems for Cavendish, who highlighted his form with another strong win.
The 182 kilometre stage began by the waterfront in Alanya and travelled mainly along the coast to Antalya. The weather was bright and warm.
After 23 kilometres, three riders slipped clear. Lluis Mas (Caja Rural – RGA), Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN – Qhubeka) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) worked hard to get a gap and received reinforcements from two others, namely Kevin De Mesmaeker (Team Novo Nordisk) and the King of the Mountains classification leader Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare), going in the break for the second day running.
Mas won the Beauties of Turkey sprint at Manavgat Waterfall (km 54), beating Zurlo to the line. That left them tied on points in that category, Zurlo having picked up maximum points on Sunday.
The quintet continued to pull together and established a lead of five minutes 37 seconds. Zurlo took the intermediate sprint at kilometre 107.2, edging out Niyonshuti, and then beat De Mesmaeker at the intermediate sprint 42 kilometres later.
Ewan’s Orica GreenEdge team did a lot of pacesetting, as did Cavendish’s Etixx-QuickStep. The latter won out in the battle, coping well despite Renshaw’s wheel issues and Cavendish’s softening tyre to seal the win and to retain the leader’s jersey.
He knows that Tuesday’s third stage will be his final time to wear the leader’s jersey, with the summit finish at Elmali certain to upend the GC and pushed the overall contenders to the fore.