A Dream Come True for Cavendish
Team Columbia-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish realised a career-long dream today, winning the classic Milan-San Remo race at the first attempt with an amazing - but close - sprint finish.
The 23 year-old from the Isle of Man was carefully protected by his team mates during most of the 298km race and then he beat Germany’s Heinrick Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) in the sprint. He was so fast in the final three hundred metres that all the other sprinters except Haussler were timed as finishing two seconds behind him.
Cavendish has become known as the fastest sprinter in the world while riding for Team Columbia-Highroad, but is now proving that he can also be a classics rider.
“When you win sprints you prove you’re a great sprinter but when you win a great one-day race like Milan-San Remo you’ve proved you’re a great rider. I wanted to prove I’m a great rider and that’s what I did today,” Cavendish said.
Cavendish celebrated with the Team Columbia riders and staff. He gave the team’s sprint consultant and four-time Milan-San Remo winner German Erik Zabel an emotional hug.
“Without his help I wouldn’t have won today,” Cavendish said of Zabel. “We did the reconnaissance twice and I knew exactly where I had to be at what time and knew exactly how hard I could go and when. It was the knowledge that he gave me that got me through the bike race today.”
“If the right people believe in you that’s all that matters and the team worked perfectly for me.”
“We had four or five guys who could have won but they sacrificed their chances so that I could win. Tommy Lovkvist could have attacked, but he made sure I was second wheel on the Cipressa. Then George Hincapie guided me on the Poggio and then gave it full gas in the sprint. I knew it could work and it did. It’s a really special day for us all.”
Directeur sportif Valerio Piva and team manager Rolf Aldag were both proud of Cavendish's performance.
“Mark always said that the Cipressa and the Poggio climbs in the finale of the race would not be a problem for him but he surprised us with his great ride,” Piva said. “Winning was a dream this morning. Now it’s become true.”