Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) denied Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) the opening road stage win of the 2011 Giro d’Italia on Sunday, beating the Manxman by a matter of centimetres.
Cavendish was clearly not happy with the result as Petacchi had spread himself across the road right into his front wheel, effectively blocking his path and causing him to lose momentum in what appeared to be an irregular move. Contentious result or not, the pair were well clear of third-placed Manuel Belletti (Colnago-CSF Inox).
Cavendish’s consolation was moving into the maglia rosa of overall race lead after his HTC-Highroad team won Saturday’s team time trial. HTC team-mates Kanstantsin Sivtsov and Craig Lewis are second and third.
Former race leader Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) slipped down into fourth place.
Lang’s big break
After just three kilometres German Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma-Lotto) had embarked on a lengthy solo escape, at the 60km mark he’d built up a lead of over 19 minutes on the bunch. The sprinters’ squads, lead by Pinotti and Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad, wound up the pace to chase Lang down.
Lang hung on to grab the race’s first mountain points at Tabiano Castello ensuring that he’d have the green mountains jersey for his day-long effort. The clearly exhausted rider then sat up and was caught with 26km to go – 215km after he started his break.
Leonardo Giordani (Farnese Vini) then promptly launched at attack, swiftly followed by Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Michal Golas (Vacansoleil). Four riders then chased to close the gap to bring the break to seven men. The chasing bunch had them dangling with a meagre gap before being caught with 8km to go.
Winding into Parma, Garmin-Cervelo hit the front of the bunch for Tyler Farrar and looked to be setting him up perfectly but faded in the final 500 metres. HTC-Highroad moved up in the left-hand side of the road, with Petacchi’s Lampre squad on the right.
Petacchi and Cavendish both opened up their sprint simultaneously, but the Italian moved right across the road and directly into Cavendish’s line, causing the Briton to swerve first one way and then the other. Cavendish made up ground, but fell short by a few centimetres on the line in what looked to be an dangerous manoeuvre – however, the result stood and Petacchi was the man spraying Champagne for the stage win on the podium.
On tomorrow’s (Monday) stage three, the riders face the first real hill of the 2011 Giro as they travel 173km from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo. The crest of Passo del Bocco appears 40km from the end of the stage with the smaller Madonna delle Grazie just 8km from the line – the sprinters will want to keep it together for a bunch finish, but the profile might suit a strong breakaway group.
Cavendish will undoubtedly be looking for revenge for today’s near miss.
Giro d’Italia 2011, stage two: Alba to Parma, 244km
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD in 5-45-40
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad
3. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
5. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
6. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky
7. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
8. Robbie MCEwen (Aus) Radioshack
9. Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard-Trek
10. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale all same time
38. Russell Downing (GB) Sky
81. Adam Blythe (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto
139. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky
150. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo all same time
Overall classification after stage two
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad in 6-06-27
2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 12 secs
3. Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad at 12 secs
4. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad at 12 secs
5. Lars Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad at 12 secs
6. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 16 secs
7. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Radioshack at 22 secs
8. Fumiyuki Beppu (Jap) Radioshack at 22 secs
9. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Radioshack at 22 secs
10. Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack at 22 secs
Alessandro Petacchi claims the win as Mark Cavendish (right) protests
Mark Cavendish moves into the race lead