Giro d’Italia: Ventoso accuses Cavendish of holding onto team car up Mount Etna
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Giro d’Italia: Ventoso accuses Cavendish of holding onto team car up Mount Etna

by Ben Atkins at 9:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Controversy hits the race as sprinters point fingers at one another

francisco ventosoThere was controversy amongst the sprinters at the start of the Giro d’Italia’s tenth stage in Termoli this morning, according to la Gazzetta dello Sport, as stage six winner Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) accused Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) of holding onto his team car on the way up Mount Etna on Sunday’s stage. While Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) was rocketing up the road to take the stage victory and the pink jersey, the sprinters were wallowing at the back, trying to get up the mountain as best they could.

“He should just be happy that he’s still in the race,” said Ventoso. “He should have been disqualified for holding on to his car up the climb of Etna. It’s a shame, because everyone is having a huge struggle to get up within the time limit, and then there’s someone who clings on to his team car without the judges doing anything about it.”

While it is understood that most sprinters are not great climbers, and some leeway is often given when holding onto cars for short periods or other methods of outside assistance is taken, persistent offending can result in penalties or even exclusion from the race altogether.

Cavendish was the last rider to cross the line at the very back of the sprinters “gruppetto”, finshing 26’35” behind Contador and making the time limit by just 25 seconds. Aussie sprinters Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) and Graeme Brown (Rabobank) were not so lucky though, and didn’t make it; they finished outside the cut and were eliminated from the race.

Many – if not most – sprinters will take the odd liberty to make it over the mountains as best they can, but expect to be penalised if they push things too far. It may seem a harmless thing to do, as they are neither challenging for the overall classification or that particular stage; it can be galling for their opponents to be beaten by them in subsequent days though, when their legs are fresher, or if they should have been eliminated altogether.

Cavendish declined to comment on Ventoso’s allegations before the start.  This is not the first time the two sprinters have come into conflict this season, with Ventoso causing the Manxman to crash in Gent-Wevelgem (pictured) back in April.


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