BRITAIN’S Mark Cavendish admitted his storming ride to win the first stage of the Tour of Turkey after five weeks out with illness surprised even himself.
The 28-year-old had not raced since March due to a stomach virus, but showed no ill-effects to cross the line yesterday in three hours 15 minutes 43 seconds after a sprint finish.
Cavendish, who rides for Omega Pharma Quick Step, said: “I was a bit surprised by my speed. It’s the first race after five weeks so you never really know, but I’m super happy that I could come here to the Tour of Turkey and win the first stage, especially after coming back after getting sick.
“My team did a brilliant job to keep me up there and keep me out of trouble. I’m glad I could win it for them.”
Consigned to his sickbed yesterday, however, was Tour de France champion Chris Froome, who pulled out of the final race of the Spring Classic series in Liege due to a chest infection.
The Team Sky rider hopes to return in the Tour de Romandie, however, which commences tomorrow.
“He probably could have started [the Liege-Bastogne-Liege] but he wouldn’t have got rid of what he’s got,” said team principal Sir Dave Brailsford, 50.
“So, in that situation, you’ve got to make some calls.”
Team-mate Pete Kennaugh also missed the race through illness.