Mark Cavendish paid tribute to Geraint Thomas on Sunday after his fellow Briton and great friend helped the sprint king win the last ever Giro d'Italia stage of his storied career.
Thomas lost the overall lead in the Italian Grand Tour in Saturday's penultimate stage and his last act was to lead out Cavendish for his 162nd win despite riding for a different team.
Cavendish, 38, will retire at the end of the season and his 17th Giro stage win caused an outpouring of emotion and appreciation for Thomas who has seen success on both road and track.
"That was quite off the cuff from him, he just shouted 'Cav!' and just went," Cavendish told reporters.
"He's so special, 25 years, he's been one of my best friends you know.
"You see what I said about him yesterday, about how optimistic and upbeat he is, despite losing the maglia rosa (for the overall leader)? That's him down to a tee. That's how he's always been, he's always seen the glass as half full.
"That's why he's special. More than a bike rider he's a good person, a good friend, a good teammate, the most loyal guy you could get. That was pretty special today."
Well, if I couldn’t win, I thought I might as well try and help an old mate out. Call it an early retirement pressie @MarkCavendish ?? Chapeau mate ?? #Giropic.twitter.com/MGZ4LFO1kv— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) May 28, 2023
Cavendish was submerged with congratulations and embraces from riders from across the peloton after a what he described as a perfect end to his racing career in Italy.
His first ever Grand Tour win came at the 2008 Giro in Reggio Calabria and he has spent a significant portion of his career in the Mediterranean nation.
"I couldn't have ended my racing career in Italy in any better way than winning at the Giro d'Italia in Rome," said a visibly emotional Cavendish.
"It's pretty beautiful to have something that will stay in my memory forever, in my heart forever. It's perfect."
?? "I am super happy, it's been an incredible day. My team mates have done a great job. My first win was in 2008, to be here again it's unbelievable. It was very nice to see a lot of colleagues and friends happy for me after the finish like @GeraintThomas86 ."@MarkCavendish -… pic.twitter.com/JXOCbfdJks— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 28, 2023