Cycling: Cavendish banishes memory of Oman

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The Independent Online

Mark Cavendish clinched his first big win of the 2012 season and in his new Team Sky colours yesterday, when he easily outshone his rivals for a sprint victory in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne Classic, in Belgium.

The Manxman blasted away from an unusually long distance from the finish – some 250 metres from the line – but nonetheless was still going so strongly he had time to sit up and point at the rainbow bands of the world champion on his chest as he crossed the line.

Cavendish said afterwards that he had not been particularly satisfied with his team-mates' support in his previous race, the Tour of Oman. However the 26-year-old had no such complaints about their work for him in the far more prestigious Belgian Classic – where the competition was much fiercer and Cavendish was feeling ill, vomiting throughout much of the race.

"I don't know if I can take any credit for this win," Cavendish told Belgian television, "my team-mates looked after me perfectly and after I get delivered to the finish like that, there's nothing I could do but win. Things didn't go so well in Oman, I was giving them a hard time and it could have been easy for them to come here and say 'Oh, eff off, we're not riding for you today'. But instead they did the opposite, and I'm so proud of them."

After taking the 78th road win of his career, Cavendish will now head for the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in Italy, followed by his first major target of the season, the Milan-San Remo Classic.

alasdair fotheringham