Mark Cavendish has leapt to third on the IG Markets Pro Cycling Index.
The Manx Missile’s victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday (26) has brought him to within 679 points of second-placed Cadel Evans (BMC).
Evans’ teammate, Philippe Gilbert, continues to lead the rolling twelve-month index despite a low key start to 2012.
Cavendish paid tribute to the efforts of teammate, Chris Sutton, who sacrificed his chance of back-to-back victories on Sunday.
“We had last year’s winner leading me out in CJ [Sutton] and for him to sacrifice the chance of going for a double, shows the class he has. That was great and for Team Sky to win it two years in a row is very, very nice,” said Cavendish.
The winner of last weekend’s other big race, the Omloop Het Niuewsblad, has cracked the IG Markets top 200. Garmin Barracuda’s Sep Vanmarcke, 23, outsprinted Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha to win on Saturday (25). Boonen’s second place, and his victory in the Tour of Qatar, have moved him to nineteenth in the rankings.
The rankings could see further movement this weekend following the Strade Bianchi, a 190km race from Gaiole to Siena, which includes an epic 50km section over gravel roads in Tuscany. The index’ top two riders will be in action, with Evans set to ride in support of defending champion, Gilbert.
The start of the Paris-Nice eight-stage race on Sunday (4) will have a further effect on the Index. The UCI WorldTour event is classified as Tier One race on the IG Index. Britain’s Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), ranked eighth with points gained from his time trial victory in the Volta ao Algarve last week, delivered an impressive third-place finish at last year’s race.
Further points gained at Paris-Nice could see him move ahead of seventh-placed Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). The German won last year’s Paris-Nice, but lost out to Wiggins in the Volta ao Algarve time trial.