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|
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|
2009 Giro d’Italia guide and features
2008 Giro d’Italia archive