Britain’s Mark Cavendish produced another perfect sprint to win Wednesday’s 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia.
Stage seven winner Edvald Boasson Hagen set up the perfect lead-out for his team-mate and Cavendish accepted the offer gleefully to claim the 214km victory between Torino and Genova.
‘I got a good position by my team at the start [of the Turchino Pass, the day’s final climb]. There were guys going backwards but it was okay; it’s amazing how deep you can go when you can smell the finish…Actually, to be honest, I didn’t need to go deeper – I was floating,’ said Cavendish, whose form is even surprising himself.
This is Cavenish’s third stage win on the tour, including the opening team trial.
‘I was happy when I won on Sunday [in Milan]… I guess two’s better than one,’ Cavendish told cyclingnews.com in typically deadpan response.
Not everyone was happy though. Third-placed Alessandro Petacchi of LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini said certain riders were not following ‘ the correct code of sprinting ethics’ – possibly referring to his run being impeded by certain members of Tyler Farrar’s Garmin-Slipstream team (though not naming any names), the American finishing one spot ahead of the dual stage winner from La Spezia.
‘There was some argy-bargy in the sprint, but that is how it goes sometimes,’ Farrar told Cyclingnews.
‘Frustrating, Mark [Cavendish] just flat-out beat me today. No way around it, he was the fastest guy. The guys took care of me over the climb and did all they could. It was hard with guys attacking in the last kilometres. We tried to hold it [together] to a lot later,’ Farrar said of their teams’ slight tweak in tactics, which didn’t quite work.
‘It happened behind me. It happened behind me so I don’t know. It happened behind me,’ said a frustrated Cavendish.
Thursday’s stage brings on another battle: 60.6 kilometres of suffering against the clock in the scenic surrounds of Cinque Terre, equating to more than one and a half hours’ time trialling and packed with two climbs, over 1,100 metres’ elevation and a pair of dare-devil descents.
‘It will be myself, Michael Rogers and Denis Menchov within a few seconds,’┬á said the maglia rosa of Danilo Di Luca, who made a point of informing the press that he’s worn the hot pink tunic for more days than any current rider.
‘If I lose 40 seconds to [Denis] Menchov, that would be great. I will use the normal [road] bike and time trial bar extensions.’
So, if Di Luca keeps the maglia rosa after Thursday’s stage, is 75 percent of his second Giro victory in the bag?
“It could be, but there are four very difficult stages after, and a crisis one day is always possible – it can happen to anyone. But maybe after Blockhaus [stage 17] or Vesuvius [stage 19] I can say I’ve won the Giro with some certainty,’ he said.
Di Luca leads Menchov by and Rogers by 1min 20sec and 1:33 respectively in the general classification.
South African interest continues with John-Lee Augustyn hanging in for 67th spot overall (46:11 behind) and Barloworld teammate Robbie Hunter in 141st overall (1:46:57), incidentally just one position ahead of Wednesday’s stage winner, Cavendish.
‘ I had no legs in the final stretch,’ said Hunter. ‘For 100km I was attacking to get in the break but every other team had the same in mind so nothing went my way. For a so called flat stage it was damb hard! I did two hours of racing at 47km/h average! I’m pretty sure I won’t do any thing near that tomorrow!