International Cycling

Cavendish wins Tirreno TT

2014-03-12 18:43
Mark Cavendish (File)

Rome - British sprint king Mark Cavendish is the early leader of the Tirreno-Adriatico race after his Omega-Pharma team won the opening stage team time-trial on Wednesday.

Omega finished the 18.5km time-trial from Donoratico to San Vincenzo in 20min 13sec, 11sec ahead of Orica Greenedge with Movistar a further seven seconds back.

The Sky team of 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins were a disappointing sixth, 27sec off the pace.

The double world team time-trial champions Omega emphasised their dominance in this discipline ahead of Orica, led by South African Daryl Impey, who wore the yellow jersey on two stages of last year's Tour de France.

For Cavendish it is the fifth time he leads a major race following his team's victory in an opening team time-trial having pulled on the leader's jersey at the Giro d'Italia in 2009 and 2011 and the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, as well as last year's Tirreno-Adriatico.

"You have to get everything perfect to win a team time trial and so it's always more rewarding when you pull it off and you get to stand on the podium together," said Cavendish.

"It's good to start off with a win. It's going to build our morale. We want to do well in the sprints, we want to do well in the mountain stages and we want to do well in the GC too.

"We're ready. We'll cover all our bases and see what happens."

Another former Tour winner, Alberto Contador is well positioned after his Tinkoff-Saxo team finished fourth at 24sec.

But for the 2011 Tour champion Cadel Evans of Australia it was a day to forget as his BMC team lost 47sec while Tour of Spain winner Chris Horner's Lampre finished 53sec down.

Cavendish's team-mates Michal Kwiatowski and Rigoberto Uran are second and third respectively, giving their overall hopes a boost.

Kwiatowski said the gap they have to the other GC contenders will be especially important in Saturday's 244km mountain stage from Indicatore to Cittareale.

"We gained some seconds before the mountain stages, which is important for the GC," said the Pole.

Thursday's second stage is one for the sprinters with a 166km largely flat run from San Vincenzo to Cascina.

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