Mark Cavendish credited his Slovakian team-mate Peter Velits for his third victory in the Tour of Spain yesterday after the Briton won the 18th stage from Valladolid yesterday. Wearing the green jersey of the points competition leader, Cavendish crossed the finish line in Salamanca a length ahead of Argentine Juan Jose Haedo and Portugal's Manuel Cardoso.
But despite his clear victory, the HTC-Columbia rider said he had experienced a fraught moment with two miles to go, which only Velits' quick response had resolved.
"There was a moment when I suddenly lost 50 or 60 places and I panicked," Cavendish said. "I shouted to Peter and he did a massive turn of about a kilometre or so, guiding me up the side of the bunch back to where I needed to be.
"He's fighting for the overall victory but he was still prepared to use up a lot of energy for me. That shows real commitment to the team and it takes a very special person to do that. I can't thank him enough."
After a quiet day for the overall favourites, Italian Vincenzo Nibali remains in the lead ahead of Spain's Ezequiel Mosquera, with Velits third.
Cavendish said the slightly uphill finish in Salamanca's city centre had been made tougher because he did not know which gear to use. "I changed gear about five times in 500 metres because I was working out whether to do it all on power or on pure speed," he said.Reuse content