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It had been three years since Mark Cavendish took a victory. Now he has three wins in three days.
The 35-year-old took his hat trick at the Tour of Turkey on Wednesday, beating Jasper de Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) in the Kemer bunch kick.
Cavendish took the sprint after marking out the wheel of key rival Philipsen through the final kilometer as his Deceuninck-Quick-Step train was disrupted.
Philipsen opened up his sprint early while Cavendish waited before punching out from fifth wheel. Once the young Belgian had hit the wind, he soon faded, leaving the Quick-Step fastman to come past him in the final 50 meters to take three consecutive wins for the first time since the Tour of Qatar in 2013.
“It’s irrelevant how many wins are in a row, it’s just nice to win again,” Cavendish said after the stage. “It’s nice that the team believes in me.”
A touch of wheels caused a huge pile-up at 150 meters, disrupting the back half of the pack. It is yet to be known if there were any serious injuries among the fallers, though team Alpecin-Fenix and Eolo Kometa riders are reported to have been taken away in ambulances.
Returning sprinter Fabio Jakobsen came through the stage unscathed and had done much of the pulling for Quick-Step in the final five kilometers.
“The most special thing about today is to see how far into the stage Fabio got, Cavendish said. “I know that’s not nice for him to see the crash in the final. After the finish he was a bit shook up, but seeing him in and about in the sprint, really close, the pride inside me, I knew I had to finish it off.”
Cavendish now goes into the hilly fifth stage Thursday with a 12 second lead over Philipsen on GC in what will be his third day in the blue leader’s jersey.