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Mark Cavendish earns his first ever GC victory
Jun 18th, 12. He may be World Champion with 20 Tour de France stage wins to his name, but Mark Cavendish proved there is a first time for everything when he won the first general classification victory of his career at the Ster ZLM Toer in The Netherlands over the weekend.
Cavendish took the overall title 8sec ahead of Lars Boom (Rabobank) in the four day tour.
"I've been second a couple of times in the past but this is my first GC win and I'm really, really happy with it," said Cavendish.
A second and third place on the opening two stages in Holland put the World Champion in the joint lead but the race-defining performance came in Saturday's queen stage when he stayed in the mix throughout on the hilly route in the Ardennes.
While some of his fellow sprinters lost upwards of 13min, Cavendish was in contention right to the finish as he chased home stage winner Boom on the climb to the line.
He then closed out the overall win on today's pan-flat final stage from Schijndel to Boxtel.
In another unusual occurrence, Kiwi fastman Greg Henderson (Lotto Belisol) was in a four-man break for much of the final 163km stage, however Team Sky and Rabobank dictated matters to make sure it ended with a bunch sprint.
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) edged Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) in the finale.
"The team rode so well yesterday, setting such a high tempo on the front that guys were going out the back all day. We were down to just 25 at the finish - it was incredible and I'm really proud of what we did," said Cavendish.
"In today's final stage there was a dangerous guy up the road in the break at just one minute back on the GC but we managed to bring it all back together.
"I'm training really well. I wanted to be in my best form and definitely am so I'm looking forward to France now and hopefully Team Sky getting the green and yellow jerseys."
For Cavendish and the rest of the Tour de France field, the next two weeks sees little racing while the riders make their final preparations ahead of the Tour which departs Liege on June 30th.
"It's pretty much about relaxing now and really looking after myself these next two weeks. You've got to start the Tour de France as fresh as possible - especially so this year with the Olympics so soon after."
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