The Deceuninck – Quick-Step sprinter returned to his former dominance in the lower-tier stage race earlier this month, picking up four victories from eight stages.
Cavendish took his first victory in more than three years in Turkey, as he looks to have regained his confidence after joining Deceuninck at the start of the season.
In a blog post on his team’s website, Cavendish said: “I have so much to say thank you for. The Tour of Turkey is not the Tour de France, but just to win again after some years of physical and psychological difficulties is something special. To be able to do it with The Wolfpack is a dream come true. Raising my hands is super emotional, as I felt a lot of people had just given up on me over the last years. But Patrick [Lefevere, Deceuninck team boss] believed in me, I owe him so much. He is my hero.”
Cavendish has struggled through illness and injury in the last few seasons, while he also faced the premature end of his career at the end of the 2020 season as Bahrain Victorious decided not to renew his contract after just one year.
But the 35-year-old signed a last-minute deal with his old team Deceuninck and set himself the target of winning one race in 2021.
Cavendish, winner of 30 Tour de France stages, said: “I hadn’t won four stages in a race since the 2016 Tour de France. It’s a crazy statement, because there are very few riders in history that could talk about winning four stages in a race. But just winning a race, that’s all I wanted to do once more. Feeling the support and work of the guys makes me proud and makes me want to do a good job. To be part of a winning team, it doesn’t matter where it is, it feels amazing. That’s why it’s so special to be part of The Wolfpack. Taking the final stage definitely topped the week off, our fourth stage win and my 150th pro victory thus far in my career.”
He added: “Now I’m at home and it feels really nice to spend some time with my family after having been away for so many weeks. I’ll work towards my next races now. I want to help the team where and when is possible and enjoy every day on the bike with The Wolfpack, because whatever comes from now on is a bonus.”