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‘It’s not bad’ – Mark Cavendish happy with Astana’s first podium at UAE Tour

Mark Cavendish sprinted to a respectable third on the first stage of the UAE Tour in his first WorldTour start with his new team.

The new Astana Qazaqstan driver was part of a group of 13 riders who broke free with 30km to go and raced in a reduced group sprint on the line in the coastal city of Al Mirfa.

Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny) emerged victorious, awarded to the competition jury after reviewing the final photos.

Asked about the finale, Cavendish said: “I got squeezed a little bit in the last corner, but I did my best in the sprint and ended up on the podium, which was not bad.

tom davidson
tom davidson
Posted 16 hours ago
Mark Cavendish sprinted to a respectable third on the first stage of the UAE Tour in his first WorldTour start with his new team.

The new Astana Qazaqstan driver was part of a group of 13 riders who broke free with 30km to go and raced in a reduced group sprint on the line in the coastal city of Al Mirfa.

Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny) emerged victorious, awarded to the competition jury after reviewing the final photos.

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Asked about the finale, Cavendish said: “I got squeezed a little bit in the last corner, but I did my best in the sprint and ended up on the podium, which was not bad.

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“I’m actually happy to be in the sprint with my form and Cees [Bol]’s support in the final.”

British road champion team-mate Cees Bol was the only rider in the Astana Qazaqstan group to get to the front when the peloton split early in the race. The Dutchman was also part of the winning 13-rider operation, where he took on the responsibility of protecting Manxman.

“I don’t have to pull my team,” Cavendish said. “When we got back together, I jumped on Cees’ wheel and got behind him. He’s a great rider just to stay on his wheel.

“There was a right split in the group and the riders with GC ambitions were working hard up front trying to keep the second group away. I just stayed there and got ready for the sprint.”

Ball also said after the first stint that he felt he could have played his role “better” in the final moments of the race.

“We [Cavendish and I] talked to each other very quickly just to make a short plan,” said the 27-year-old. “In the sprint, I felt I could still work on some details Better, but overall not bad, we got a good result.”

Cavendish’s third place was his best result since joining the Astana Kazakhstan team, surpassing his previous best result on the first day of the Tour of Oman – 21st.

With six stages remaining in the UAE Tour, including three possible sprint finishes, Cavendish will be hoping for a first win with his new team. “It’s good to try to get the ball rolling early in the year,” he told the media at a news conference on Sunday.