Mark Cavendish won the final Giro d’Italia sprint around Rome with “a little help from his friends.”
Like the Beatles song with Ringo on lead vocals, Cavendish had plenty of support from a former teammate, his old friend and fellow countryman Geraint Thomas.
As the peloton strung out in sprint formation, Cav had a train of two riders, one his teammate Luis Leon Sanchez in the teal of Astana Qazaqstan and the other, Geraint Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers.
Thomas went to the front and drilled it, putting his old pal in perfect position for a huge victory that sets him up with plenty of confidence for the Tour de France and breaking Eddy Merckx’s record of wins in the French grand tour.
Yes, he got by with a little help. He got by Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) to win in emphatic and dominant fashion like the Cav of old. He got his first Giro win back in 2008 and fifteen years later the Manx Missile could still launch himself to victory.
Apparently Cav had asked Thomas as they raced around the Coliseum if he would “fancy doing a lead-out.” Clearly the answer was yes.
“My teammates were incredible, my friends did incredible,” said Cavendish, referencing the guest lead-out from Thomas. “He’s so special and one of my best friends over the years.”
For his part, Thomas offered up a grin and some deadpan understatement — “I thought I’d help a brother out.”
We don’t have a crystal ball for the Tour de France but should Cavendish get an opportunity on the Champs Elysees to surpass Merckx, he may need to ask Thomas for another guest lead-out. In fact, he should probably book that in advance.
That’s what friends are for in grand tours.