Cavendish has no equal
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Cavendish has no equal

by Steve Jones at 12:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results

In today's stage, traveling from Lido di Camaiore to Firenze, Mark Cavendish of the Columbia-High Road team showed that he has no equal in the sprints in this year's Giro d'Italia besting Alessando Petacchi, with Austrailain Allan Davis coming in third bike lengths behind.  The176km stage rode into Cavendish's adopted home of Florence, and with family and friends watching he did not disappoint.

Petacchi, forced to look after himself in the sprint finishes, could only manage to hold the wheel of a flying Cavendish, but was clearly the best of the rest.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) had his team working for him all day, but in the end, they couldn't match the power of the Columbia-High Road leadout, and Farrar, who was on his own in the final meters, became tangled up as the sprint began to unfold.

The racing began when a three-man breakaway jumped out of the peloton in the form of Mikhail Ignatiev (Team Katusha), Leonardo Scarselli (ISD), and Björn Schröder (Team Milram). The leaders got a solid gap, but the Columbia-High Road and Garmin-Slipstream teams patrolled the front to make sure the distance was reasonable.

When Schröder felt the peloton closing in he attacked the break opting to go for the finish on his own. But with so few sprint finishes left in the race the peloton had other ideas, bearing down on the German and picking him up with around 6km left to race.

On the run in to the line Garmin-Slipstream had control of the race as they snaked through the historical city streets. With 1km to go it was still Garmin-Slipstream stringing the race out, but as the line approached Columbia-High Road broke through the crowd giving Cavendish a clear shot at the line, and once again taking the reigns when it really mattered. Cavendish jumped hard towards the line and only Petacchi had the power to follow him, but was unable to come around the Columbia-High Road sprinter as he accelerated all the way to the line.

The talent of Cavendish combined with the timing and power of his leadout train -- Mark Renshaw and Edvald Boasson Hagen -- is reminicent of the days of Mario Cipollini when the sprints were merely a formality. Names like Gian Matteo Fagnini, Giovanni Lombardi, and Mario Scirea all come to mind as riders who had a keen sense to sniff out the line for their team leader day after day. It will be interesting to see if he leaves the race after today's win with only two possible sprint stages left, but a lot of climbing to get there.

The bigger question of the day is whether Denis Menchov (Rabobank) can hold onto the pink jersey all the way to Rome. The Russian has won two of the toughest stages on offer in this year's race, but his team does not have the horsepower of Astana, LPR Brakes-Farense Vini, or Liquigas. Menchov's strategy will have to be to stay with the favorites, with three of the next four stages having the possibility for time gaps.

Tomorrow's stage from Campi Bisenzio to Bologna has been won by Danilo Di Luca previously, and with his punch to the finish he'll be looking for time bonuses to make up for yesterday's time trial if a break doesn't steal the day.

Stage result
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR/THR) 3hr 48min 36sec
2. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/LPR) same time
3. Allan Davis (AUS/QST) s.t.
4. Robert Hunter (RSA/BAR) s.t.
5. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) s.t.
6. Juan Jose Haedo (ARG/SAX) s.t.
7. Robert Forster (GER/MRM) s.t.
8. Ben Swift (GBR/KAT) s.t.
9. Davide Vigano (ITA/FUJ) s.t.
10. Sebastien Hinault (FRA/ALM) s.t.

Overall standings
1. Denis Menchov (RUS/RAB) 54hr 16min 01sec
2. Danilo Di Luca (ITA/LPR) at 0:34
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA/AST) 0:40
4. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/LIQ) 2:00
5. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CTT) 2:52
6. Michael Rogers (AUS/THR) 2:59
7. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 3:00
8. Gilberto Simoni (ITA/SDA) 4:38
9. Marzio Bruseghin (ITA/LAM) 5:26
10. Thomas Lovkvist (SWE/THR) 5:53
11. David Arroyo (ESP/GCE) 5:55
12. Lance Armstrong (USA/AST) 6:34
13. Tadej Valjavec (SLO/ALM) 6:42
14. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR/AST) 7:11
15. Stefano Garzelli (ITA/ASA) 7:15


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