Cavendish back in a race leader's jersey

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Mark Cavendish has put on a race leader's jersey for the first time since 2017 after the first two stages on the opening day of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in Italy.

The 35-year-old former world champion narrowly missed out on victory in the first of the day's two stages on Tuesday.

Yet the great British sprinter took over the race lead from Jakub Mareczko, of Vini Zabu, after his short-handed Deceuninck-QuickStep squad finished third in Tuesday afternoon's team time trial.

It is the first time since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour that Cavendish has led a stage race, while his second place in the stage came on the back of his runners-up spot in the GP Monsere two weeks ago, his highest-placed finish since June 2018.

"To be leading a race for the first time in four years is super nice," Cavendish said.

"With Deceuninck-QuickStep, we only have five guys here so our backs were up against the wall a little bit but everyone looked after me so well this morning and I'm sorry I couldn't pay them back with a win.

"In the team time trial we gave everything and it will be nice to wear the leader's jersey for a day."