Mark Cavendish celebrated his 23rd birthday yesterday with a generous slice of chocolate cake after dinner.

But he declined a glass of Champagne in the start village in Forli this morning because the 172-kilometre stage to Carpi presents a great opportunity for a second stage win in this Giro d?Italia.

The sprinter from the Isle of Man won his first Giro stage last Tuesday. Now he wants a second.

?Hopefully I?ll have a glass of Champagne to celebrate a stage win tonight,? said High Road rider.

?Today and tomorrow are my last two chances in this race so I?m really up for it.?

Cavendish took it easy on his birthday, saving his legs for today. ?It was a hilly stage and I just sat and spun it. I finished in the grupetto, no problem, and I just got through it on the minimum of effort.?

At dinner the hotel?s staff presented him with a huge chocolate cake with fireworks in the top. ?That was a nice gesture,? he said. Today he hopes to spark some fireworks of his own.

?I haven?t really studied this finish, but I?ll be okay,? he said. ?I think Daniele Bennati and Robbie McEwen are my two main rivals.?

At San Vincenzo on Sunday?s ninth stage, Cavendish finished seventh and crossed the line waving his fist at CSF Group Navigare?s Tiziano dall?Antonia, who blocked him as he tried to make his move.

?We made a few mistakes on that sprint,? Cavendish said. ?My team did a great job to keep me out of trouble on the twisty roads but in the final kilometre we should have gone either up the right or the left. Instead we went up the middle and we got boxed in.

?Hopefully dall?Antonia won?t get in my way again. He was in the break all day yesterday so hopefully he?ll be knackered.?

Stage 12 of the Giro started at 12.15 (BST) and is scheduled to finish at around 16.00 (BST).

Check this afternoon for the first and best reports and reaction


There have been three all-out sprint finishes so far in this Giro d?Italia. Daniele Bennati leads Cavendish 2-1. Can the Manx rider level it up today?

Stage 3: Millazo

Who won? Daniele Bennati made it look easy, getting past Erik Zabel, whose Milram team set up a lead-out train only to watch the Italian capitalise.

What happened to Cavendish? He was caught in a crash 70 kilometres to go and had a long chase to get back. He finished ninth.

Stage 4: Lungomare

Who won? Cavendish. There was a crash 800 metres from the line which whittled the sprint down to just a dozen. Bennati went for a long one, Cavendish stayed calm, repositioned himself and burst past the Italian.

Stage 9: San Vincenzo

Who won? Bennati showed he was the strongest, beating Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel.

What happened to Cavendish? He got boxed and crossed the line in seventh place shaking his fist at CSF Group?s Tiziano dall?Antonia.


Stage 11: Bertolini wins hilly stage

Stage 10: Bruseghin wins Giro d’Italia time trial

Stage nine: Cavendish misses out in sprint

Stage eight: Ricco wins again

Stage seven: Di Luca, Ricco and Contador gain time on rivals

Stage six: Italians clean up

Stage five: Millar denied by snapped chain

Stage four: Cavendish wins

Stage three: Bennati romps home

Stage two: Ricco wins Giro d’Italia second stage

Stage one TTT: Slipstream wins Giro team time trial


Aggressive Cummings comes away empty handed [stage six]

Millar speaks out after missing out in Giro [stage five]

Reaction to Cavendish’s Giro stage win

Cav hits back at Pozzato’s snipe

Cavendish: This is my biggest win [stage four]

Millar celebrates Slipstream Giro d’Italia success

Bettini looking for final Giro glory

Astana’s troubled build-up to the Giro

Petacchi banned for Salbutamol positive

Yates and Astana make last minute rush to Giro


Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week two – new photos added daily

Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week one.


Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 19)

Rest day 1: How the favourites are doing

Giro Britannia part two: From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia

Tuesday Comment (May 13): Why Cavendish is a bona fide world-class star

Giro Britannia: how the Brits are doing in Italy

Giro d’Italia 2008 preview

Giro d’Italia 2008: who will win?

Giro d’Italia 2008: The British are coming

Giro d’Italia on Eurosport: TV schedule