Mark Cavendish gave himself an early birthday present when he won his second stage of the Giro d?Italia in Arenzano.
The Isle of Man sprinter turns 24 tomorrow, and although he may not enjoy the hilly 61-kilometre time trial too much, he at least has cause to celebrate tonight.
On roads that will have been familiar to him following his victory in Milan-San Remo in March, Cavendish cruised off the wheel of his Columbia-Highroad team-mate in the final 200 metres to beat Garmin?s Tyler Farrar.
It was Columbia?s fifth stage win of this race, following victory in the team time trial and early wins for Cavendish in Milan on Sunday and before that Edvald Boasson Hagen and Kanstantsin Siutsou.
And it was Cavendish?s 38th win as a professional in less than three seasons ? which puts his tally just three behind the British record held by Chris Boardman.
After the difficult stage yesterday, and with tomorrow?s time trial looming, it was a low-key day in the Giro, with many of the favourites taking it as easy as possible.
There was not much action early in the day. A group of four ? Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Xacobeo), Cameron Meyer (Garmin), Dmytro Grabobskyy (ISD) and Alessandro Donati (Acqua & Sapone) ? got away after 65 kilometres, but their lead didn?t last long.
Marco Manzano of Lampre broke clear in the last 40 kilometres and had a lead of about a minute or so, but he was caught too as the riders tackled the Turchino climb, best known as one of the early battlegrounds in the Milan-San Remo classic.
From there it was downhill all the way to the finish in Arenzano, with Lance Armstrong leading the way down the descent.
As they reached the bottom of the hill, Armstrong?s team-mate, Yaroslav Popovych attacked, with the Lampre rider Enrico Gasparotto bridging across rapidly.
They were caught, but Gasparotto had another go inside the final three kilometres.
Columbia and Garmin had things under control as they came into the final kilometre and the sprint finish was as close to routine as these things get. Cavendish, who has ditched the bright, white Oakleys in favour of a more subdued pair in black, was all smiles as he clinched the ninth Grand Tour stage win of his career.
The overall picture was unchanged, with Danilo Di Luca remaining in pink ahead of Denis Menchov, although that could change in the time trial tomorrow.
Levi Leipheimer lost his Astana team-mate Chris Horner, who was unable to start the stage having crashed yesterday.
Stage 11: Torino – Arenzano, 214km
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad in 4-51-17
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Italy) LPR Brakes
4. Allan Davis (Australia) Quick Step
5. Sebastien Hinault (France) Ag2r
6. Davide Vigano (Italy) Fuji-Servetto
7. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Columbia-Highroad
8. Alexander Serov (Russia) Katusha
9. Oscar Gatto (Italy) ISD
10. Robert Forster (RSA) Milram all same time.
11. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at same time
52. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at same time
84. Christopher Froome (GB) Barloworld at same time
102. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at same time
106. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 2-58
164. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 7-56
169. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at same time
170. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at same time
Overall classification after stage 11
1. Danilo Di Luca (Italy) LPR Brakes in 48-51-28
2. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank at 1-20
3. Michael Rogers (Australia) Columbia-Highroad at 1-33
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 1-40
5. Franco Pellizotti (Italy) Liquigas at 1-53
6. Carlos Sastre (Spain) Cervelo at 1-54
7. Ivan Basso (Italy) Liquigas at 2-03
8. Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden) Columbia-Highroad at 2-12
9. David Arroyo (Spain) Caisse d’Epargne at 2-35
10. Gilberto Simoni (Italy) Fuji-Servetto at 2-58
29. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 9-49
38. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 17-39
76. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 51-24
106. Ben Swift (GB) Katusha at 1-19-51
119. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-26-43
129. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 1-35-00
142. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 1-47-39
166. Ian Stannard (GB) ISD at 1-55-43
179. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 2-05-40
Britain’s David Millar takes a drink
Levi Leipheimer suffered a spill during the stage
Danilo Di Luca and Lance Armstrong on the final descent
Mark Cavendish takes his second stage win of the 2009 Giro, equalling his tally in last year’s event
|Find the pink jersey competition|
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Find the jerseys throughout the Giro and you would win a £400 Parker International voucher.
18 pink jerseys will be hidden around the Cycling Weekly and Parker International websites over the course of the three week race – all you have to do is decipher the clues at the end of the stage reports to find them.
Wednesday, May 20. Clue number nine:
Find today’s jersey in the article: Cavendish was so good at last year’s Giro d’Italia that he was giving stages away to team-mates
Today’s jersey is on www.cyclingweekly.com
|Giro d’Italia 2009 links|
Stage 10: Di Luca lays down the gauntlet
Giro rest day review (May 18)
Stage nine: Cavendish blitzes rivals to win in Milan
Stage eight: Siutsou makes it two in a row for Columbia-Highroad
Stage seven: Boasson Hagen takes treacherous stage
Stage six: Scarponi wins longest stage with big break
Stage five: Menchov wins mountain battle as Di Luca grabs the pink jersey
Stage four: Di Luca denies Soler on the line; Lovkvist takes pink jersey
Stage three: Cavendish loses pink jersey after being caught behind late crash
Stage two: Petacchi denies Cavendish the stage win
Stage one: Cavendish in pink as Columbia prove their point to Garmin
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
Desktop wallpaper photos
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How are the Giro favourites doing?
Cavendish says ‘I’m addicted to winning’
Riders stage go-slow protest during Giro stage in Milan
Cavendish cool before Milan sprint
No sympathy for Armstrong from Giro boss
Boasson Hagen celebrates his birthday early
Cavendish overjoyed for Boasson Hagen
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Astana riders wear faded kit in protest over unpaid wages
Armstrong sees Leipheimer in pink
Giro news round-up: 14 May
Wiggins: ‘I can’t keep smashing away on the climbs’
Wiggins eyes top 20 finish overall
Armstrong after Giro stage 5: ‘That was hard’
Cavendish looking for Giro revenge
Armstrong happy with stage four performance
Lovkvist will fight to keep Giro lead
Giro could be last race for Armstrong’s team
Vande Velde crashes out of Giro
Petacchi claims he didn’t know of Cavendish crash
Cavendish struggles to find consolation in pink jersey
Petacchi: I’ve been working out how to beat Cav
I’m wearing pink on behalf of the team, says Cavendish
Wiggins ready to win Giro team time trial
Friday, May 8: Giro news round-up
Cavendish out to topple Garmin in Giro team time trial
Team time trial start times
Cycling Weekly’s Giro d’Italia top ten prediction
Brits in Venice for Giro presentation
Armstrong overshadows overall favourites at Giro presentation
Armstrong confident of finding new sponsor for Astana
Armstrong working to save Astana team
Wiggins in top form for Giro
Garmin Slipstream kitted out for Giro opener
Dan Lloyd gets late Giro call-up
Armstrong’s special Giro bikes unveiled
Daniel Lloyd overlooked for Giro ride
Cummings and Thomas not selected for Giro d’Italia
Cavendish tests Giro form at Tour of Romandie
David Millar confirms he’s riding in 2009 Giro
Bennati to take on Cavendish in Giro 2009 sprints
2009 Giro d’Italia to start in Venice
Evans and Silence-Lotto disagree on Giro 2009 ride
Armstrong to ride 2009 Giro
Tuttosport reveals 2009 Giro d’Italia route
Dolce & Gabbana design new Giro jersey
2009 Giro d’Italia guide and features
Find the pink jersey competition
Giro d’Italia 2009: The Big Preview
British riders to have led the grand tours
CW’s Giro top ten prediction
Brits in the Giro 2009
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
CW Classic: the 1987 Giro d’Italia
2008 Giro d’Italia archive
Giro d’Italia 2008 coverage index – race reports, photos, results
From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia
Giro 2008: The final word on this year’s race
Brits at the 2008 Giro: photo special
Five days to go, what’s in store?
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 27)
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 19)
Giro d’Italia 2008 preview