Kennaugh wins Girobio stage and closes in on overall lead

Great Britain Under 23 Academy rider Peter Kennaugh will be 20 on Monday but celebrated his birthday a day early by winning stage three of the Girobio and moving up to second overall on Sunday.

Kennaugh, who shares his Isle of Man roots with Mark Cavendish, rode a perfect race during the hilly 166km stage from Lonato del Garda to Asiago. He formed the move that decided the stage, won the final mountain sprint, chased the attacks and then dominated the sprint. He celebrated with arms raised in victory after beating Matteo Busato (Fausto Coppi).

It was Kennaugh’s first win of 2009 but he has shown his form with some strong performances in recent races and third place in the time trial stage of the Giro delle Pesche Nettarine race.

Kennaugh is now only 35 seconds behind Girobio race leader Cesare Benedetti (UC Bergamasca) and has a great chance of taking the leader’s jersey during Monday’s 17km time trial, on the day of his birthday.

Academy team manager Max Sciandri was in the Great Britain car behind Kennaugh.

“Kennaugh is a talented rider but with this win he’s made a big step forward. He rode it perfectly and I knew he was going to win it,” Sciandri told Cycling Weekly with pride.

“Everything was decided on the last climb and when I went up in the team car I could see he had great legs. Everybody was attacking in the finale but Pete kept his cool and won the sprint.”

“I thought he might get the jersey as well but he’s not far behind now and could get it tomorrow (Monday). Pete can ride a good time trial because of the work he’s done on the track and so hopefully he can get the jersey on the day of birthday.”

The other GB riders all finished the stage and will also line-up in the time trial. Jonny McAvoy crashed near the finish of Saturday’s second stage and Andy Fenn crashed during stage three but both are okay and will continue in the biggest stage race in Italian amateur cycling.