Cavendish has been looking better and better as the season goes on and had been edging closer to an elusive victory before his success in Turkey, taking third place in the Belgian Classic, Scheldeprijs, last week.
It also wasn’t just a case of Cavendish just beating lesser-known sprinters; he sprinted to beat Grand Tour stage winners Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) to take the victory.
Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad: “If I had thought it was done with him, I would not have taken him back, I said it from the start – I had nothing to lose with Cavendish. If he failed, it was his fault. If it worked, it is my credit. I thought we’ll see. So it worked. And I think, hey, it’s my credit. Who else gave him a chance?
“It was close on stage one in the Tour of Turkey. In the last corner, he lost some places due to a rider who almost fell. On stage two he sprinted the way he can best.
“We have used him almost everywhere. He actually rode the team’s third program. He had a very specific assignment in the Scheldeprijs. Sam Bennett had to sprint for the win. Cavendish had to be in the wheel with him so that no one else could take that place.”
The outspoken Belgian team manager also spoke to CyclingNews: “When I look back at the images we all saw last year at Ghent-Wevelgem, it really hurt me. I couldn’t believe that it could be the end of Mark Cavendish, and the day after De Panne he came to my office and I said I didn’t have a budget but we tried to do something.
“We figured out a solution and Mike Sinyard [head of Specialized bikes] told me that if we could get Mark on the team then he would help pay the bonuses if he won. Mike will have a bit less money this evening but he and I both loved to do this. Everyone wanted Mark on their team but they didn’t do it, but I really wanted him.”
Cavendish also took the overall lead and the lead in the points classification too going into the third stage in Turkey which is likely to be another sprint and perhaps another win for the ‘Manx Missile’.