Four days into the season, Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) has taken his first win of his 2024 campaign. The 38-year-old sprinter powered to victory on Friday’s stage 4 of the Tour Colombia to open his proverbial account for the new year.
Having shown strong legs en route to a third-place finish in the opening stage won by Movistar’s Fernando Gaviria, Cavendish took full advantage of an excellent leadout by teammate Cees Bol on Friday’s stage to Zipaquirá, the city where Egan Bernal grew up, just outside of Bogotá. Bol led the pack into the last 150 meters before Cavendish launched himself, and although Gaviria reacted quickly on his left side in an attempt to match Cavendish’s speed, the Manxman held on to win.
Gaviria settled for second with Nelson Soto (Petrolike) in third, while Bol’s excellent work in support of his teammate left him close enough to the front to finish fourth on the day.
As such, Cavendish already has first win of the year in the bag, much earlier in the season than he managed in his first season with Astana. In 2023, he did not pick up a victory until the final stage of the Giro d’Italia in May – and that would end up being his only win last year. He proceeded to crash out of the ensuing Tour de France after a mechanical may have denied him victory the day before, leaving him tied on career Tour stage wins with Eddy Merckx for another year instead of setting a new record as he had hoped to do at the French Grand Tour.
Although he had been planning to retire at the end of the 2023 season, Cavendish thus decided to ride on into 2024 with an eye towards settling his unfinished business at the Tour, and Astana made updates to both its roster and its staff to bolster his chances. That objective is still more than four months away, but the Tour Colombia has already given Cavendish reasons to be feel good about his form and his team’s sprint train here in just the first week of his season.
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