Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) took his second stage victory of this year's Giro d'Italia in Ravenna this afternoon, narrowly beating Team Sky's Davide Appollonio and arch-rival Alessandro Petacchi.
Cavendish, who is expected to pull out of the race this evening, was helped by a textbook performance by his team-mates, although a fast-finish by Appollonio nearly spoilt their good work.
A large crash 1.5km from the finish resulted in a small group of less than 20 riders contesting what is likely to be the final bunch sprint finish in this year's Giro.
Race leader Alberto Contador was held up in the aftermath of the fall, which began when Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox) overshot a tight bend while in second wheel.
This triggered a crash further down the peloton, with RadioShack's Robbie Hunter one of the unlucky ones to come off.
Coming as it did within the final 3km, all riders in the group at that time will be awarded the same as Cavendish.
Perfect day for Cav
Barely a hill lined the 184km stage, which started in Castefidardo and headed north along the Adriatic coast to Ravenna, once the capital city of the Western Roman Empire.
After just 7km of racing, Michal Golas (Vacansoleil), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Davide Ricci Bitti (Farnese Vini) and Miguel Minguez Ayala (Euskaltel) broke clear, gaining some three minutes advantage in a short space of time.
At one point it seemed like the peloton were going to reel them in significantly earlier than anticipated, but, fearing counter-attacks, the four-man group were left to fight a losing battle for a little longer.
Yesterday's stage winner John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) fell with some 45km remaining, as the stage fell into a rather tiresome lull for those watching.
The escapees were reeled in with just over 10km remaining, and a tricky run in to Ravenna saw Cavendish, Petacchi and the GC contenders all keen to stay upfront and out of trouble.
Cav could be seen screaming out the orders to his trusty lead-out train, most notably before the tight left-hand bend that Modolo overjudged.
The Brit's loyal servant, Mark Renshaw, had to take evasive action to avoid falling off, and with those behind less fortunate, the peloton was reduced to a fraction of its size.
Cavendish was continuously studying Petacchi's movements, even after launching his sprint.
Seemingly unbeknown to him, Sky's young Italian sprinter Appollonio was finishing strongly to his right-hand side, and nearly pulled off the biggest win of his career.
Instead it was the Manxman who stood on the podium once again; his seventh individual victory in Italy's biggest race.
Giro d'Italia 2011, stage 12: Castelfidardo-Ravenna, 184km
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad in 4-17-25
2. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Team Sky
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
5. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step
6. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas
7. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Colnago CSF-Inox
8. Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM
9. Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad
10. Manuel Cardoso (Por) RadioShack all at st
General classification after stage 12
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard in 44-15-16
2. Kanstantin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 59 secs
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 1-21
4. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-28
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 1-28
6. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Movistar at 1-37
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 1-41
8. Jose Serpa (Col) Androni Giocattoli at 1-47
9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quickstep at 2-21
10. Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM at 2-21
Race leader Alberto Contador
Mark Cavendish takes win number two at the 2011 Giro
Giro d'Italia 2011: Latest news
Giro fines Contador for missing press conference
Cavendish responds to 'team car' accusations at Giro
Giro d'Italia News Shorts (May 15)
Giro's Sicilian cyclists proud to face Mount Etna
Contador surprises at Giro with attack ahead of mountains
Contador minds food at Giro as CAS decision nears
Weening supported by Rabobank and model Kroes
Local lad Appollonio bears fruit in Fiuggi
Giro d'Italia News Shorts (May 12 edition)
Blythe finding way in second Grand Tour
Leopard-Trek withdraws from Giro d'Italia
Leopard-Trek uncertain to continue in Giro
Tuesday's Giro stage in memory of Weylandt
Giro doctor describes actions to save Weylandt
Wouter Weylandt killed in Giro crash
Giro news shorts (May 8)
Cavendish likely to take Giro lead tomorrow
Giro 2011: Who will win?
Kennaugh to lead Team Sky in Giro's opening stage
Nibali's Giro fight with Contador may reach the courtroom
Riis defends Contador's participation in Giro
Cavendish set to start winning again at the Giro
Doping investigations force cyclists out of Giro d'Italia
Kennaugh replaces Pauwels in Sky's Giro line-up
Contador scouts out the Giro mountains
Cavendish and Millar top list of Giro-bound Brits
Lampre likely for Giro despite doping investigation
Giro announces record 23 teams to race
2011 Giro to start in Turin with team time trial
Giro goes one up on the Tour with spectacular route
Nygaard, Sciandri and Lloyd comment on 2011 Giro route
Nibali's Giro d'Italia?
Giro d'Italia 2011: Stage reports
Stage 11: Gadret grabs dramatic Giro stage win
Stage 10: Cavendish opens his Giro account
Stage nine: Contador storms Etna to take Giro lead
Stage eight: Gatto springs late attack to take win
Stage seven: Neo-pro De Clercq wins by a whisker
Stage six: Ventoso steals Giro stage six win
Stage five: Weening holds on to take stage and maglia rosa
Stage four: Tearful Farrar and Leopard-Trek lead riders across stage four finish line
Stage three: Vicioso victory overshadowed by Weylandt crash
Stage two: Petacchi wins as Cavendish takes lead
Stage one: HTC-Highroad wins Giro's opening team time trial
Giro d'Italia 2011: Photo galleries
Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Giro d'Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage seven live text updates
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage five live text updates
Follow the 2011 Giro d'Italia live with Cycling Weekly
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
90 seconds, 12 stars: Is the Giro 2022 GC battle the most open grand tour we've seen in years?
After a reshuffling of the pack on Blockhaus, things are still tight in the battle for pink
By Adam Becket • Published
No time for a wheelie today: Tom Pidcock narrowly wins second mountain bike World Cup race
The 22-year-old didn't have time to pop a wheelie this time as he just pipped Vlad Dascalu to the line
By Ryan Dabbs • Published