Mark Cavendish became the second Briton to win stages on all three major Tours when he sprinted to victory in the Tour of Spain yesterday. Having triumphed 15 times on the Tour de France and five times on the Tour of Italy, the HTC-Columbia rider overpowered American Tyler Farrar in the 172.5km 12th stage to claim his maiden Vuelta success.
Spain's Igor Anton kept the race lead after an almost entirely downhill stage from the Pyrenees in Andorra. Italian Vincenzo Nibali is second, 45 seconds back, while home rider Xavier Tondo is third.
"It was a very special feeling to have done that," Cavendish told reporters after emulating fellow Briton Robert Millar's feat by winning on all three major Tours.
"I grew up watching these races and even to take part in a major Tour is a special honour. To be able to win in all three is just incredible."
Cavendish paid tribute to HTC-Columbia, describing the team as the "reason why I get to stand on the podium so often".
"When I cross the finish line in first place, it's on behalf of them," added the Briton.
He also praised Australian team-mate Matt Goss, who led Cavendish into the final corner 350m from the finish in Lleida. Goss raised his arms in triumph as Cavendish crossed the line more than a bike length clear of Farrar.
"Once we'd got through that final corner it was pretty clear we were going to win," Cavendish said. "Goss did a brilliant job leading me up there and I actually wanted him to win.
"It didn't quite work out but I'm really proud for Matt."
Defeated in three Vuelta sprints before he finally won in Lleida, Cavendish said: "I'm not relieved I won, because I didn't lose due to poor form... I lost because I was unlucky or someone was stronger than me."
Today's mainly flat stage from Rincon de Soto to Burgos could offer another opportunity for Cavendish to increase his lead in the points classification.
The race ends in Madrid on 19 September.Reuse content