After the Tirreno-Adriatico some doubts and criticism were raised about the physical condition of Mark Cavendish, since in the three available sprints he never managed to find the right gap to at least give it a try. However, the Briton responded in the way he has been accustomed to over the last 15 years, namely by putting on a scorching acceleration on Corso Francia, in Rivoli, which no opponent was able to overcome.
CannonBall adds to his collection of trophies a race he probably never thought he could win, but this year’s change of format, with a virtually flat profile and, above all, the removal of the Superga climb in the finale, meant he was in with a chance of success in the world’s oldest classic. Only once since 2012 has Milano-Torino been won by a sprinter, and with the inclusion of Cavendish in the roll of honour, Arnaud Démare (winner in 2020) will feel a little less lonely among climbers of the calibre of Alberto Contador, Thibaut Pinot and Primoz Roglic.
It may seem impossible, but Cavendish had not won in Italy since 2014, when he claimed the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico in Porto Sant’Elpidio. Since then, he has won a further 46 times – out of a total of 159 victories in his career – but never on the roads of the Bel Paese. Today he has broken the taboo and the impression is that we won’t have to wait another eight years to see him win again in Italy.
Perhaps he could try as early as Saturday at Milano-Sanremo, a race he already won when he was 23. Now he’s 36, the hunger is the same, but compared to a few years ago he must deal with some serious internal competition: “I don’t know if I’ll be there, it’s up to the team to decide. We’ll see what they decide,” he said today after the victory.
The one thing that is certain is that Mark has already secured his third win of the season, and today’s victory carries weight because it’s not often that sprinters get a chance to compete in such a prestigious classic. Cavendish thanks the team for their impeccable work throughout the day, but it’s for Milano-Torino to thank Cavendish as now the roll of honour – which does not include the legendary Eddy Merckx – can also count on one of the most successful sprinters and riders ever. Simply a legend, or a “MiTo”, as they say in Italy, playing with the acronym Mi-To (Milan-Torino).