Mark Cavendish was delighted to get the Etixx-QuickStep ball rolling at the third time of asking on the final day of the Tour de San Luis.
The Manx Missile took the team’s first UCI-classified victory of the season in Argentina after out-sprinting upcoming Colombian sensation Fernando Gaviria (Team Colombia).
Having twice been beaten into second place by the 20-year-old Latin American fast-man, Cavendish made amends on the downhill finale into San Luis to chalk off his 30th victory since joining the Belgian super team in 2013.
And Cavendish was delighted to have delivered a victory he hopes will set the wheels in motion for a successful season.
He said: “We worked hard at this race and I’m thrilled to leave Argentina with a victory.
“We rode a tactically smart race. When the break went, Michal Golas went with it. We didn’t have to pull earlier because he was in the break, so we were all fresh for the final.
“At 300 meters to go I went. We knew we could go long, as we did recon of the finish prior to the race. It’s slightly downhill.
“So with the long distance acceleration of a guy like Gaviria and that kind of a finish, it’s important to anticipate his sprint and do the job before he does. We did that, and I’m super and happy and proud we could come away with a win here.
“It’s important, not just for myself, but for the whole team, to get a good feeling started here. This is important race experience that we will use to build for our season.
“You can’t replicate this kind of preparation at any kind of a training camp. A win is the best way to show you are building for the rest of your season.”
Argentine rider Daniel Diaz (Funvinc Brasilinvest-Sao Jose dos Campos) won the race overall after picking up two stage wins, with defending champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) forced to settle for third.
Cavendish’s next stop, meanwhile, is set to be the second edition of the sprint-friendly Dubai Tour which rolls out on February 4.
John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) will be among his chief rivals on the Emirate island, as the two hone their preparations for Milan-San Remo in the spring.