VILLA MERCEDES, Argentina (VN) — Mark Cavendish got off on the right foot in his new Omega Pharma-Quick Step kit on Monday, winning a field sprint to take stage 1 of the Tour de San Luis.
Cavendish beat Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Merida) to win the 164km stage from San Luis to Villa Mercedes and don the first leader’s jersey of the race.
His Quick Step mates pulled the peloton to catch a four-man break in the final kilometers, then controlled the front and sent Cavendish off to win by a little less than a bike length.
“The team did a great job for me today,” Cavendish said. “We were the first team to start riding, with Martin Velits at the beginning, we were present at the front the whole day. We got help from other teams too, the sprinter teams, but the guys just rode so strong and stayed with me the whole day. It is so nice to have a team with me that is 100 percent committed. I’m so, so proud of the guys today.”
The final was “real chaos,” Cavendish added.
“It was hard to stay together,” he said. “It was hard with a bit of a dip into the finish and nothing really marking 100 meters or 200 meters, so I just kind of jumped at 250 meters. I knew when I jumped I’d have a good shot at it, even though there was some wind.”
Stage 2 is a rolling 171.4km leg from Tilisarao to Terrazas del Portezuelo with one category-3 climb, the Alto Paso Grande at 55.3km.