Stage two of the Tour of Andalusia saw triple World Champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) take a narrow victory in a bunch sprint that was badly shaken up by a crash in the last 250 metres.
The crash happened when the bunch tackled a sharply angled chicane in the final kilometre at high speed. With gusting winds and the city-centre roads of Cordoba rendered greasy by heavy rain showers earlier in the day, crashes were almost bound to happen on the run-in - and the organisers decision to place the finish so soon after a chicane arguably made that risk even higher.
The peloton was badly shaken up by the crash, just 250 metres from the finish, with Freire taking the victory by just over a tyre's width ahead of Germany's Robert Wagner (Skil-Shimano).
Wagner made the classic error of raising his arms in victory just too early, allowing Freire to sneak past him for his second win of the season. Cavendish was fourth, with Sky's Greg Henderson in sixth.
Although the rain largely stayed away following Sunday's downpour, sidewinds battered the peloton for most of the day, before the sprinters's teams, aware this was their best chance of victory in this year's edition of Andalusia, started winding things up in the closing kilometres.
There was no change at the top of the overall classification with stage one winner Sergio Pardilla (Carmiooro) maintaining his position at the head of the table.
Tuesday's stage from Marbella to Benahavis is hilly with a difficult uphill finish, though by no means as tough as stage one's seven kilometre final climb.
Tour of Andalusia 2010, stage two:
1. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 182.2km in 4-53-06
2. Robert Wagner (Ger) Skil-Shimano
3. Alex Rasmussen (Den) Saxo Bank
4. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia
5. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Andalucia-CajaSur
6. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil
7. Greg Henderson (NZ) Team Sky
8. Paul Martens (Ned) Rabobank
9. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank
10. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Milram all same time.
30. Stephen Cummings (GB) Team Sky at same time
66. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 49secs
Overall classification after stage two
1. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Carmiooro
2. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 9secs
3. Manuel Vazquez (Spa) Andalucia-Cajasur at 13secs
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre at 13secs
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 21secs
6. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 21secs
7. Javier Moreno (Spa) Andalucia-Cajasur at 28secs
8. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 29secs
9. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 29secs
10. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Team Sky at 31secs
18. Stephen Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 1-14
80. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 8-10
81. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 8-26
Mark Cavendish came fourth on the stage
Oscar Freire takes the win after a chaotic finale
Stage one: Cavendish and Wiggins battle through rainstorms in Andalusia
Oscar Freire: Rider Profile
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