Giro d’Italia: Mark Cavendish takes number two in crash marred finale
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giro d’Italia: Mark Cavendish takes number two in crash marred finale

by Ben Atkins at 11:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
Manx Missile launched after HTC-Highroad team controls the race all day

Mark CavendishMark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) took his second stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, on the day that he is to quit the race and go home. The Cannonball was the fastest of little more than a dozen riders, who got around a crash inside the final two kilometres, after his HTC-Highroad team had controlled the peloton all day.

In second place, and almost alongside Cavendish, was Davide Appollonio (Team Sky), taking his best result of the race so far, with Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) in third.

"Winning today was really important," said Cavendish afterwards. "My team-mates had worked all day with no help at all from any other squad and I wanted to thank them for it by winning. They did an incredible job. Then I started up my sprint with 200 meters to go and I managed to get it.

"I'm really pleased," he added. "The Giro is a very important race for me, there aren't any more sprint stages in this year's race and I really wanted to get another win here."

Cavendish managed to stay ahead of the incident that forced the majority of the peloton inside the stage's closing kilometres; this was down to prior knowledge of the course, he said.

"We had seen before the stage, in the route-book, that it might be difficult," he explained. "We knew we had to be close to the front, and we got through it ok."

After the previous day’s excursion into the hilly hinterland of Abruzzo and le Marche, the race returned to the shoreline for 182 pan-flat kilometres as it resumed its journey north along the Adriatic coast. Similar to stage ten, it was a day made for the sprinters, with barely a pimple in the road to obstruct the peloton as it made its way into Emilia Romagna.

This was the last day for the sprinters before the race heads into the Dolomite mountains for three incredibly tough stages. Mark Cavendish was one of those who had confirmed that he would be pulling out in the evening after the stage, and so there was no way that the inevitable breakaway would deny the fastmen this chance.

The inevitable breakaway goes and the sprinters' teams inevitably control it

As expected, after just 5km, a group of four riders escaped. They were: Miguel Minguez (Euskalel-Euskadi), Davide Ricci Bitti (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli), Stef Clement (Rabobank) and Michal Golas (Vacansoliel-DCM), and by the 10km mark they led by 1’20”.

After 16km the leading quartet had opened the gap to four minutes. Race leader Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) has said that he doesn’t intend to defend his lead on these intermediate stages, unless one of his major rivals decides to attack, and so the Danish team did nothing to stop the lead from growing.

Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad team took it upon itself to take control and immediately cut into the leaders’ advantage.

By the 56km point it had shrunk to 2’26”; the presence of four riders up front tiring themselves out suited the American team though and so it allowed it to rise again. After 68km it had grown again to 3’22”, where it was to hover for several kilometres.

The kilometres roll by as HTC-Columbia keeps the gap constant

On a highly uneventful midsection to the stage, as it passed through such seaside resorts as Riccione and Rimini, the gap between the four riders and the HTC-Highroad led peloon fluctuated a few seconds either side of three minutes.

As the breakaway was approaching the intermediate “Traguardo Volante” sprint, in Cesenatico, the hometown of the Marco Pantani, with a little more than 50km to go, there was a small crash in the middle of the peloton. The incident involved yesterday’s stage winner John Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale), but all riders remounted and rejoined the peloton. The gap was now 2’54”, but HTC-Highroad decided that now was the time to close it down.

With 40km to go it was down to 2’26”, and with 30km to go it was 1’35”. There was very little obvious resistance from the four fugitives at this point, with the inevitability of their capture plain to all.

As the finish approaches it's all over for the fugitives

At the 25km to go banner the four riders had just 1’15”, which was down to just 52 seconds at 20km to go; they were now in plain sight on the wide, straight coast road and HTC-Highroad made short work of those last few seconds; catching them with 14.5km to go.

With the break over, the HTC-Highroad continued to keep the pace high, to prevent further breakaways, but other teams began to swarm forward. Omega Pharma-Lotto managed to get alongside the American team with 8km to go but, just behind them, Movistar and Team Sky were lurking; Lampre-ISD was also present, with Danilo Hondo shepherding red jersey Alessandro Petacchi to the front.

As the peloton changed direction to head inland to Ravenna, Saxo Bank-SunGard briefly took over to keep Contador safe; once on the straight roads though, the Danish team handed it back to HTC-Highroad and the sprinters’ teams continued their fight for supremacy over the peloton.

With 5km to go BMC Racing tried to take over, but HTC-Highroad, and AG2R La Mondiale, was having none of it. For a while the peloton had two arrowheads on the front, before the white, yellow and black one too over once more.

Corners in the finale cause havoc in the peloton but most of the favourites get around

Everybody managed to get around a sharp, right hand bend, shortly after the 3km to go banner, and HTC-Highroad strung things out once more. A crash on a sweeping left hander with 2km to go though, as an Androni Giocattoli-CIPI rider misjudged it completely, either brought down or stopped two-thirds of the peloton.

The HTC-Highroad train was seemingly unaffected though and the three remaining riders led the dozen riders that was left of the peloton into the finishing straight. Renshaw took over as he has done so many times; before pulling over to led Cavendish launch his burst for the line.

The other sprinters had other ideas though, and Petacchi went on Cavendish’s left, with Appollonio on his wheel; the Team Sky sprinter switched across the road when he could see that the Ale-Jet was beaten and looked like he was pulling alongside Cavendish as they approached the line.

The finish came too soon for Appollonio though and Cavendish sat up and saluted his second stage win of the race with a two-fingered “victory” salute.

Because the crash happened with less than 3km to go, everyone who went down, or was stuck behind it, was awarded the same time as Cavendish. The overall classification therefore remains unchanged from yesterday, with Contador still in pink as the race heads to the Dolomites.

Result stage 12
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad
2. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Team Sky
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-CIPI
5. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step
6. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox
8. Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM
9. Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad
10. Manuel Cardoso (Por) RadioShack

Standings after stage 11
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-SunGard
2. Kanstantin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad @ 59s
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale @ 1’21”
4. Christophe Le Mével (Fra) Garmin-Cervélo @ 1’28”
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
6. David Arroyo (Spa) Movistar @ 1'37"
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana @ 1'41"
8. Jose Serpa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-CIPI @ 1'47"
9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step @ 2'21"
10. Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM


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