Mark Cavendish made sure there was no need for a photo finish at the Giro d?Italia on Friday. He lost by three centimetres to Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) in Carpi on Thursday but won by three bike lengths in Cittadella.
Cavendish is the first British rider to win two stages of the Giro d?Italia and his latest win also moves him up to eighth in Cycling Weekly’s list of all-time British pro winners.
Yet again the High Road team lead the peloton towards the finish. Milram took over in the final kilometre but Cavendish dived into a gap between Bennati and the barriers and then accelerated away to win. Bennati finished second and Spain?s Koldo Fernandez (Euskaltel) was third.
?This definitely makes up for losing in Carpi because I was really disappointed to lose by so little,? Cavendish said in the press conference after his win.
?I promised my team mates I?d win and we did a perfect sprint. They gave me a great lead out and then I did the rest.?
?I think we can celebrate my birthday a bit now. We usually have a bottle of champagne for someone?s birthday but I told everybody we?d wait until I won. Winning again is a perfect birthday present for me and for the team who did a great job.?
?I know I have to say a massive thanks to Bennati. I actually shouted thanks to him as I went passed him with a hundred metres to go. He showed great sportsmanship, so that we could contest the sprint and show who really is the fastest.”
?I probably would have closed the gap in the same situation but I hope to pay him back some time in the future for his kindness.?
Cavendish confirmed that he will now stay in the Giro to try and win stage 17 to Locarno next Wednesday but also to learn what it is like to ride in the mountains in a major Tour.
?This is my first Giro and I?ve won two stages. That?s promising for the future. I hope to perhaps win the points jersey in the Giro d?Italia or the Tour de France one day and to do that you need to be able to suffer and make it through the mountains, so I?m going to treat the final week as a massive learning curve. I?ll take things day by day and only quit if I get too tired. I?m enjoying the Giro and want to stay as long as possible.?
The Italian press and tifosi are full of admiration for Cavendish?s fast sprinting and he said he is really enjoying the Giro.
?I?ve done 13 stages now and I?m enjoying it very much. We?ve been unlucky with the weather but there?s a great group of riders here and great organisation. The food’s pretty good as well. I live in Italy in the summer, near Max Sciandri in Quarrata. I love the country and it?s a big opportunity to be able to ride here. I hope to come back in the future.?
Asked if he is now the fastest sprinter in the peloton, Cavendish admitted he was the fastest in the final 100 metres but acknowledged he still has a lot to learn.
?My age means I?m the fastest for speed and acceleration in the last 100 metres when we go from 50km/h to 70km/h. I think I?m the fastest and I?m lucky that it enables me to win, but Zabel and Bennati are stronger than me. They get over the hills even without their teams. I?m not the strongest sprinter by far but I?m fast and I?ve had a bit of luck.?
He also explained that his amazing acceleration comes from his track background.
?My muscles are short and tight and I use 170mm cranks. That means I?ve got more punch and I?m quicker which is good. Pedalling a fixed gear on small cranks means you learn to pedal for maximum speed and also plays a massive part in knowing how to go through gaps in the bunch. I?m very lucky. I?ve got the natural physiology of a sprinter.?
?I know I?ve also got the perfect team, with riders who have been professional for five years helping me win. That means more than physical talent.?
GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage 13: Easy victory for super-fast Cavendish
Stage 12: Bennati gets photo finish verdict over Cavendish
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
GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: NEWS
Cavendish disappointed after missing out in Giro sprint
Can Cavendish win the Giro today? [stage 12]
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: PHOTOS
Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week two – new photos added daily
Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week one.
GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: FEATURES
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