Cycling: Mark Cavendish claims first win for Team Sky

 

Mark Cavendish claimed his first win for Team Sky as a trademark sprint finish earned him victory in stage three of the Tour of Qatar.

The Manxman, who switched to the British-run team after winning the Tour de France's green jersey and the world championships last year, beat race leader Tom Boonen into second on the 146.5-kilometre stage from Dukhan to Al Gharafa Stadium.

The victory was even more impressive given Cavendish had been a doubt to start the tour after falling ill on the flight to Doha.

Cavendish, having been led into position by team-mate Bernhard Eisel, edged out Belgian Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by little more than a bike length, with Lithuania's Aidis Kruopis (GreenEDGE) in third.

He had been in the lead group of around 30 riders when crosswinds split the peloton into three with 30km to go.

The win moved the 26-year-old up to third in the overall standings, eight seconds behind Boonen and two adrift of American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda).

Cavendish told the Team Sky website: "I'm very happy with that. I'm still not 100%, but we wanted to ride well as a team and if it came down to a sprint then it came down to a sprint.

"It split up which we weren't really expecting but the wind picked up and I was looked after by the lads who got me to the front group.

"We didn't really have to ride once we were in the group. I had Bernie Eisel and (team-mate Juan Antonio ) Flecha there in the final with me to just keep me in position.

"I wanted to come off Boonen's wheel but then [Kruopis] from GreenEDGE came over on the right and boxed me in. I had to swing out and I wanted to wait for the headwind finish so left it late and came past Boonen.

"It's incredible to win [with the rainbow jersey]. I said I wanted to make the jersey proud.

"You never really get the season going until you get that first win under your belt. So now it's there I can hopefully get on a roll now and we can win some things."

PA

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