Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) won the second stage of the 2010 Tour de Romandie in Switzerland on Thursday.
It was a return to the form that saw Cavendish secure 23 pro victories in 2009, and the Manxman gave a two-fingered salute as he crossed the line in Freiburg safely ahead of his bunch sprint rivals.
Who was the salute aimed at? Probably his critics judging by his post-race comment that it was to send a message to the “journalists and commentators who know jack-**** about cycling”. Cavendish has struggled to regain the form of last year after a persistent tooth infection played havoc with his early season. However, the focus of his year has always been on winning the green jersey at the Tour de France in July.
The win in Romandie is Cavendish’s second victory of the year after he took a stage of the Tour of Catalonia. Cavendish pointed out that the same difficult finishing circuit had been used in the Tour of Romandie for each of the last two years and he’d been dropped, but this year he stuck with the leaders over the climbs and finished it off with a convincing sprint.
It was the Cavendish of old. His HTC-Columbia squad rallied to bring their man to the front of the pack in the run-in to the line, delivering him perfectly and well clear of second-placed Danilo Hondo (Lampre).
Robert Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) came home in third.
The performance was a marked contrast to Wednesday’s opening road stage, where Cavendish was dropped on the big climb of the day and missed the sprint.
Peter Sagan (Liquigas) took fifth on the stage to retain his race lead over Cavendish’s HTC-Columbia team-mate, Marco Pinotti.
Britain’s Ben Swift (Team Sky) improved on the previous day’s ninth place by taking eighth behind Cavendish.
The riders now face Friday’s stage three 23.4km individual test against the clock, which will undoubtedly shake up the overall classification.
Tour de Romandie 2010, stage two: Freiburg-Frieburg
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia
2. Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre-Farnese Vini
3. Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Transitions
4. Luca Sebastien Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
6. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
8. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky all same time.
Overall classification after stage two
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
2. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Columbia
Stage two scenery
Liquigas head the bunch for race leader Peter Sagan
Mark Cavendish: V is for victory?
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one: Young gun Sagan takes Romandie stage one
Prologue: Pinotti wins Romandie opener
Froome faces race to be fit for Giro after time trial crash
CW’s all-time list of British pro winners