The Deceuninck – Quick-Step sprinter returned to winning form with a hugely popular victory on stage two of the eight-stage race in Turkey, following up with another outstanding performance to win stage three.
Cavendish, 35, is on a one-year contract with his old squad Deceuninck and hoped to find the top step of the podium at least once this season, having last won a race three years ago.
Speaking after his second victory of 2021, Cavendish said: “My confidence is still coming back and today I had more than yesterday and knew I could fight again for the victory. It was a difficult finish over the urban cobbles and with that treacherous wind, but we wanted to control the sprint ourselves.”
Cavendish took his second stage win after making it through a tough day of climbing in Turkey, with the stage ending in a chaotic bunch sprint.
Launching his sprint 150 metres from the line, Cavendish was able to convincingly beat rivals Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and Andre Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation), winning by a bike length over his nearest rival.
After the stage, the Manxman paid tribute to team-mate Iljo Keisse, Shane Archbold, Stijn Steels and Fabio Jakobsen.
He said: “Iljo was again incredible and what he did motivated us for the finale, where we were all together. Fabio also worked hard and it was nice to see him at the sharp end of a bike race, Shane and Stijn rode a lot in the wind, while Alvaro was there for me under the flamme rouge.”
Cavendish also extended his overall lead in the Tour of Turkey, having last claimed back to back stages six years ago in the Tour of California.
The winner of 30 Tour de France stages said: “The fact that I won again gives me a lot of confidence, especially as it’s for the first time in five years or so that I’ve claimed back-to-back stages in a race.
“Doing it in the leader’s jersey makes it even more special. We’re happy and we’ll continue to enjoy ourselves here.”