April 6, 2011- Britain's Mark Cavendish sprinted clear of the field to claim victory at the Grand Prix l'Escaut on Wednesday.
The HTC-Highroad sprinter, a 15-time stage winner on the Tour de France, steered clear of danger in a crash-marred finale to finish ahead of Russian Denis Galimzyanov and Belarussian Yauheni Hutarovich.
Cavendish has endured a mediocre start to his season, so the Isle of Man rider was only too happy to find success at the scene of his maiden professional victory, in 2007.
"This race is special for me because it's here that I took my first professional win," said Cavendish, who also won here in 2008.
"It's been a frustrating season so far. I've had a bit of bad luck, so hopefully this will help turn things around."
Cavendish's only other win this season was in the sixth stage of the Tour of Oman.
The GP de l'Escaut is held over 200km and is usually controlled by the sprinters' teams in anticipation of a bunch finish.
Cavendish finished ahead of Russian sensation Galimzyanov, of Team Katusha, with plenty of room to spare.
Moments before then American rival Tyler Farrar was taken out of the equation after clashing with Belgian Wouter Weylandt.
Another Belgian, Tom Boonen, had started as one of the race favourites but was not in contention for the finale after crashing twice during the race.
Results from the Belgian semi-classic GP de l'Escaut, held over 200 km on Wednesday.
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) HTC-Highroad 4hr 29min 57sec
2. Denis Galimzyanov (RUS)
3. Yauheni Hutarovich (BLR)
4. Stefan van Dijk (NED)
5. Robbie McEwen (AUS)
6. Francesco Chicchi (ITA)
7. Alexander Kristoff (NOR)
8. Theo Bos (NED)
9. Frederique Robert (BEL)
10. Kenny van Hummel (NED) all same time