Mark Cavendish took his first victory since 2018 on stage two of the Tour of Turkey.
The British sprinting star put in a phenomenal sprint to catch a flying Jasper Philipsen in the final 100 metres, taking an emotional victory three years since his last.
Cavendish is on a one-year contract with Deceuninck – Quick-Step and had set himself the goal of winning at least one race this year.
After a promising start to the season with three podium finishes, Cavendish hadn’t found his opportunity to take victory.
But on stage two of the tour of Turkey, Cavendish followed Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation), leaving his sprint until late before surging from third wheel, passing Greipel overtaking Philipsen right at the line.
After finishing fourth on the shortened first stage of the Tour of Turkey, an eight-stage 2.pro-ranked race, Cavendish went into stage two with another shot at victory during a 144km sprint stage starting and finishing in Konya.
As the eight-rider breakaway was caught with just under 10km to race, the sprint teams began to focus on the dash for the line, with Philipsen the favourite to take the victory.
Into the decisive final kilometre, Alpecin-Fenix were in control of the bunch, Israel Start-Up Nation just behind, with Cavendish tied to Greipel’s wheel in fifth position.
With 300m to go Philipsen launched his sprint from the wheel of his lead-out rider, with Greipel setting off in pursuit.
Cavendish followed and closed the gap to Greipel, as Philipsen began to pull away with 200m to the line.
But the Belgian had jumped too early, as Cavendish surged past Greipel to take Philipsen’s wheel, before the Manxman powered into the lead right at the line.
The victory is Cavendish’s first since the third stage of the Dubai Tour in 2018, where he beat the likes of Nacer Bouhanni and Marcel Kittel.
Last season, the 35-year-old feared a premature end to his career as he struggled to find a new contract after one season with Bahrain-McLaren.
Cavendish was left without a new contract late into the season as races continued to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But the winner of 30 Tour de France stages as eventually picked up by Patrick Lefevere’s Deceuninck – Quick-Step for one season, having previously raced for the Belgian squad from 2013 to 2015.
Earlier this year, Cavendish said he wanted to raise his arms in victory at least once this season with the team.