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Mark Cavendish (High Road) could have won his third stage in the Giro d?Italia in Locarno on Wednesday but generously decided to let team mate Andre Greipel win instead.
High Road lead out the sprint perfectly in the final kilometres and Greipel lead the peloton round the final corner and then opened up his sprint. Cavendish was tucked on his wheel and could have accelerated past him but instead he looked round to control Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) several time and then gradually eased so that Greipel could win.
The 146km stage was characterised by a three-rider breakaway by Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre),Yann Huguet (Cofidis) and Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff) but high Road and Liquigas lead the chase and Ignatiev was the last to be caught, four kilometres from the finish.
High Road took over and nobody else saw the front of the peloton until after the finish line.
Cavendish raised his arms first and then so did Greipel to give High Road a special one-two and a clear demonstration of the strength of the team.
“First and second is unbelievable.” Cavendish told Cycling Weekly after celebrating with his team mates just after the finish line.
?It wasn?t something we made up, we didn?t decide it going into the sprint, but there was two of us in the last two hundred metres and Andre is really fast, so it was perfect.”
I was just watching Bennati and if he?d started to sprint I?d have gone as well.
“It?s great for our team spirit. We showed we can ride a perfect lead out and the whole team was fantastic yet again.”
“I owed Andre this for the job he did the other day. He deserved to win. He?s fast. It wasn?t like I needed to come round him if he was going to win. It?s perfect.”
GREIPEL SPRINTED TO WIN
Cavendish might not be pleased to know that Greipel rode to win the sprint, instead of leading out the young Brit to his third win.
“It was the plan that I was the first in the last corner and the team did a very good job,? Greipel said in the stage winner’s press conference.
?I started my sprint and went all the way to the finish. I know that I?m fast and that I?m one of the strongest in the bunch but even if Cavendish had passed me we would still have got first and second.?
?I think Cavendish was happy with me, I think everyone was happy with me. I did a good job for him when he won and we came 1-2 today. We wanted to win as a team and we won as a team. Mark didn?t said nothing to me, I think he was happy with me.?
Greipel refused to accept that Cavendish had sat up to let him win.
?I don?t want to comment on that,? he said, clearly not wanting people to think Cavendish gave him the win.
?If you think it is like this, that?s fine with me. I think I?m fast. If you?re a sprinter you usually want to pass and win races??
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINISH IN VARESE
The Giro heads back into Italy on Thursday with the seventeenth stage from Mendrisio to Varese. The 147km stage starts by covering the 2009 Mendrisio world championships route and ends with two laps of the Varese course that will host this year’s world championships.
GIRO D’ITALIA 2008 STAGE 17: RESULTS
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) High Road 146km in 3hours 27min 5secs
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) High Road
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
4. Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
5. Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana
6. Alexandre Usov (Blr) ag2r
7. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Barloworld
8. Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank
9. Alexander Serov (Rus) Tinkoff
10. Nikolai Trussov (Rus) Tinkoff all same time.
36. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 4secs
133. Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road at 49secs
134. David Millar (GB) Slipstream at 51secs
144. Steve Cummings (GB) Barloworld at 3min 49secs
145. Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at same time.
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 17
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana in 72hours 14min 40secs
2. Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval at 41secs
3. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Diquigiovanni-Androni at 1min 21secs
4. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre at 2min
5. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas at 2min 5secs
6. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR at 2min 18secs
7. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2min 47secs
8. Emanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Navigare at 4min 25secs
9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence-Lotto at 4min 26secs
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Navigare at 5min 25secs
89. Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at 1hour 43min 37secs
93. David Millar (GB) Slipstream at 1hour 49min 22secs
118. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 2hours 14min 14secs
126. Steve Cummings (GB) Barloworld at 2hours 21min 13secs
137. Mark Cavendish (GB) High Road at 2hours 43min 21secs
138. Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road at 2hours 47min 13secs
British riders (l-r) Mark Cavendish, David Millar, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins share a joke and a biscuit
Race leader Alberto Contador in action
Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish score a one-two for Team High Road
Contador celebrates another day in the pink leader’s jersey
All photos by Graham Watson
GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage 16: Pellizotti wins mountain time trial
Stage 15: Sella strikes again in the mountains
Stage 14: Sella wins first Giro mountains stage
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
Six Brits finish mountain time trial [stage 16]
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
Five days to go, what’s in store?
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 27)
Cycling Weekly’s all-time list of British pro winners
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