Cavendish comes close at Belgian GP

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Brussels (AFP)

British sprinter Mark Cavendish had to settle for second on Sunday after Belgian Alpecin rider Tim Merlier stole past him on the inside to win the Monsere GP.

The last of Cavendish's 146 career wins came on the Dubai Tour in February 2018, and the 35-year-old shouted in anger after crossing the line in second.

Cavendish won 30 Tour de France stages in his prime and is hoping to notch some farewell wins in a last fling with Belgian outfit Deceuninck-Quick Step, who gave him a one-year deal in January.

The Manxman had been struggling with various health issues, but appears rejuvenated somewhat on his return to his cycling roots with the Belgian team.

"Great sprint of @MarkCavendish, who gets his first podium of the season with #TheWolfpack at the #GPMonsere21!" his team said on Twitter shortly after the feat.

The GP Jean-Pierre Monsere is named after the 1970 world champion who was knocked down and killed during a race shortly after claiming his title at 22.

Cavendish's next outing is another Belgian GP, the Scheldeprijs on April 7.