BRITISH RIDER Mark Cavendish claimed his second stage win of the Giro d’Italia in a sprint finish this afternoon.
The Team Sky man — who won the green jersey at the 2011 Tour de France — again highlighted his ability to sprint as he edged Australian Matthew Goss (GreenEDGE) and Italian Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) in an exciting conclusion to stage five.
Making his win more impressive, the reigning UCI world road race champion was still sporting the scars from a crash he suffered just two days earlier. Setting the pace in the 199km stage that ended in Fano were Olivier Kaisen and Brian Bulgac (Lotto-Belisol), Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Pier Paolo De Negri (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia).
The quintet shot away from the peloton inside the first kilometre before De Marchi charged clear of his early rivals with 174km remaining. De Marchi put in a gutsy performance and continued to lead as the race entered its final 50km.
Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) — who won stage one and led the general classification at the start of stage — suffered an accident for the third time in the race, one that is likely to spell the end of his hopes. De Marchi was finally hauled in by the peloton with just under 20km remaining and a sprint finish looked on the cards.
That is what eventuated as Cavendish held off stage three winner Goss in the exciting conclusion.
Cavendish’s Team Sky team-mates set him up nicely before the winner kicked away with 150 metres remaining as he triumphed by a bike length. Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) retained his overall race lead although he was separated from some of his team-mates in the finish.
With a break in the peloton, only the first 17 riders shared the same time, meaning Navardauskas saw his lead slightly reduced. He is still five seconds ahead of South African Robbie Hunter and 11 seconds in front of Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, while Goss (+13s) and Cavendish (+14s) round out the top five.
A 207km ride from Urbino to Porto Sant’Elpidio will challenge the riders on Friday as they enter the sixth of 21 stages.