Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) won the eleventh stage of the Giro d'Italia from Serravalle Scrivia to Pinerolo near Turin on Wednesday, but the stage ended with a dozen crossing the finish line on the ground after a late crash on the wet roads.
Petacchi beat compatriot Gabriele Balducci and Australia's Robbie McEwen to take his third win of the 2007 Giro d'Italia.
Behind the sprinters, Nikolai Trussov of the Tinkoff team sparked the pileup after losing his balance on the wet roads. Other riders rode into him, others touched their brakes and crashed, with race leader Andrea Noe crossing the line sat on the road.
Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) and Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) were amongst to go down in spectacular fashion but most riders were not hurt because they slid along the wet road.
"I crossed the line on my backside. It's the first time that's ever happened but fortunately I didn't hurt myself," Noe said.
The stage win was Petacchi's 22nd victory at the Giro and he again thanked his team mates for leading him out in the final kilometres.
"Today the team was very important in such a fast finish. We went at a crazy speed in the last four kilometres, I went a bit early but I held off Balducci and McEwen even though they advantage of coming from behind," Petacchi said.
"I was very scared on the wet roads because I still haven't got over breaking my kneecap in Namur during last year's Giro. I was going to sit with eight kilometres to go but when I saw my team mates go on the front I knew I had to contest the sprint."
Robbie McEwen, Robert Forster (Gerolsteiner) and several other sprinters have announced they will now quit the Giro but Petacchi said he had not yet decided if he will continue.
"I don't know if I'm going to carry on. I've got to ride the Tour de France in July and I'm pretty tired but I'll make a decision after talking it over with the team," Petacchi said.
"I've done well winning three stages but I've been training since October and need some time to recover before the Tour de France."
The Giro heads into the Alps on Thursday for the first big mountain stage. The twelfth stage is from Scalenghe near Turin to Briancon in France. The 163km stage includes the Colle dell'Agnello, the highest climb of this year's race, and the Col d'Izoard.
GIRO D'ITALIA: STAGE 11 RESULTS
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram 198km in 5-46-59
2 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Aqua & Sapone
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
5 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Credit Agricole
7 Koldo Fernandez (Esp) Euskaltel
8 Aliaksandr Usau (Blr) Ag2r
9 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Liquigas all same time
135 Steven Cummings (GBr) Discovery Channel
151 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas at same time
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 11
1 Andrea Noe (Ita) Liquigas in 51-53-08
2 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre at 1-08
3 David Arroyo (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne at 1-15
4 Francisco Vila (Esp) Lampre at 1-38
5 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems at 1-48
6 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Panaria at 2-04
7 Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz) Astana at 2-06
8 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas at 2-58
9 Marco Pinotti (Ita) T-Mobile at 3-11
10 José Luis Rubiera (Esp) Discovery Channel at 3-22
59 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas at 14-59
117 Steven Cummings (GBr) Discovery Channel at 45-44
GIRO D'ITALIA 2007: STAGE REPORTS
Stage 10: Piepoli wins Giro stage, old hand Noe takes lead
Stage 9: Napolitano takes Giro stage nine
Stage 8: Arvesen beats Bettini to win Giro stage eight
Stage 7: Petacch wins Giro sprint on motor racing circuit
Stage 6: Pinotti takes Giro lead, Laverde wins stage
Stage 5: Forster wins Giro d?Italia sprint
Stage 4: Di Luca wins Giro stage and takes pink jersey
Stage 3: Petacchi wins third stage of Giro
Stage 2: McEwen wins Giro d?Italia sprint
Stage 1 TTT: Liquigas dominate Giro team time trial
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